Friday, January 29, 2010

I'm Againts It.

There's a small town down in Carroll County called Villa Rica, Spanish for Town of Riches Town-Of-Texters-Who-Can't-Spell.

Earlier this week the local School Board passed a resolution forbidding students in the Villa Rica High School from wearing ripped/ragged/torn jeans.  It was immediately met with a firestorm of protest from idiot parents and their equally brilliant offspring, who will someday lead this great nation.

An Atlanta television station did a story on the controversy and, as part of the video, showed what students were texting to each other.  It was a plan to protest the resolution.  The text shown read thusly:

"FWD: FWD: FWD: wear holey jeans on Jan 27 to protest againts our schools lame dress code! FWD to all Villa Rika Wildcats!"

You can't make this stuff up.

I have a pair of "holey" jeans, by which I mean I have worn them slap out.  The left leg is ripped open at the knee, the bottom seams are frayed, and the pockets won't hold anything but air. 

If I had known that they were such a big deal, I'da been wearing them to work long before now.  But today I stand with the Villa Rika Wildcats.  I, too, will wear my holey jeans proudly, since I'm againts any stoopid dress kode.

Maybe, together, we can change the world.  And learn to spel at the same time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Toyota And John Wayne

Apparently Toyota has found a problem its famous Japanese engineering, marketing, and formerly above-average quality reputation cannot overcome.

It's no secret that Americans love their cars.  And a lot of Americans love, really love, Toyotas.  Now, I'm no conspiracist, but after World War II Japan as a nation, empowered in part by America's rebuilding, built high-quality, low-priced consumerables--mainly electronics and vehicles.  "Made In Japan" went from meaning cheap and crummy to cheap and great.  Slowly but surely Japanese automakers overtook Detroit's best in almost every arena.

Until lately.

The last few months have not been kind to Toyota.  It started with a horrible crash in California which took several lives and was apparently caused by a stuck accelerator pedal.  Corporate downplayed the severity of the incident (plausible denial) and kept on rockin' and rollin'.  Then another accident.  Then the media got hold of the story.  Then Toyota decided to remedy the problem.  By hacksawing off a chunk of the gas pedal and piggybacking a longer retaining tab for the floormat, processes which they said would fix the problem.  There was a bigger problem, however.

The American people.

We're not accustomed to being pissed on and told it's raining, which is what Toyota was trying to do.  This morning Toyota halted all sales of eight-eight--of their new vehicle line until the issue was resolved.  To paraphrase Daddy, if that'd been Ford, they'da put them under the jail.

Ford had real problems in early 2001 with Firestone tires on Explorers.  Several just blew up, causing damage and death.  I was working for a dealership owned by the Kelly Management Corporation, which owned seventeen dealerships in Pennsylvania and Florida.  The Monday after the whole thing blew open (no pun intended) I arrived at our dealership in Palm Bay, Florida to find a line of Explorers running out of the four lanes in the service drive into the road.  As soon as I walked in, Mr. Kelly was on the phone for me.  I told him the situation, and that the replacement tires weren't scheduled to arrive for two more days.  "Rocky," he said, "I have fifteen trucks already on their way.  Use those tires."  Ford didn't pay for those tires;  Mr. Kelly did.  That's the way you do business.

Toyota has taken the "duck-and-run" approach.  It's already hurt them, and it will hurt more in the days and months to come.  It looks like what John Wayne said in Operation Pacific:  "Kill 'em all;  let God sort 'em out."  What a sorry way to operate.

Time will tell how this affects Toyota's reputation in this country.  Americans have been taken for granted, and I don't think they'll take it well.  But we'll see.

In the meantime, have you driven a Ford lately?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

There Goes The Ponderosa

Pernell Roberts, the last of "Bonanza's" Cartwright family, died Sunday at his home in California.

Hoss (Dan Blocker) rode off into the sunset in 1972.  "Ben/Pa" (Lorne Greene) went off the Ponderosa in 1987.  "Little Joe" (Michael Landon) bought the farm in 1991.

Now, I mean no disrespect by referring to their deaths this way.  I just think that's how real cowboys would want it.  Except maybe "Adam" (Pernell Roberts).

Adam was the odd one of the bunch.  Remember, I was a child when "Bonanza" was in its heyday.  Sunday nights, after church, we'd catch "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "Bonanza".

Ah, the memories.

Daddy would "adjust" the horizontal/vertical hold on our black-and-white Zenith and, if all else failed, hit it on the side at just the right spot using the palm of his hand.  Worked every time.  That Roscoe, he of the Magic Tuning Hand.  Anyway...

There they'd come, the Cartwrights, riding into our living room through a burning map of the Ponderosa, all decked out in their cowboy garb.  Except for Adam.  He was always dressed in black.  I wondered why.

He was the coolest Cartwright.

I have a question.  Why would three grown men still live with their Pa when they could have been married with Ponderosas and little Cartwrights of their own?  Hoss and his Little Hoss's or Hossettes, piles of little Little Joes or Little Josephines, and Adam...I got nothing.

Apparently Adam wasn't real happy living out on the ranch with Pa and his brothers.  He left the series, according to Pa, by just "moving away."  Uh-huh.  I'da been moving away too.

Perhaps he moved back home to Waycross Valdosta, Georgia.  Lowndes County.  Home of another great cowboy, my father-in-law, Raymond Coppage.  Most folks from Lowndes County say they're from Valdosta, but they're usually from the county:  Clyattville, Dasher, Naylor, Remerton, or that metropolis Hahira.  I'm betting Adam was from one of those.

No matter.  The point is he's ridden off into the sunset.  To meet Pa, Hoss, and Little Joe.  And the Duke, Roy and Dale, and Tex.

I bet he wore black.

BUSTED:  My good former friend Mike Ruffin the Convictor pointed out that in order to see Ed Sullivan I would have had to skip church on Sunday night.  Unbeknownst to him we had the pre-production DVR that wouldn't be available to others for decades.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

BUSTED II:  Again, my ex-former-good-friend Mike Ruffin the Navigator pointed out that Waycross, Georgia, is in Ware County, not Lowndes.  I'm taken aback (and afront) by the number of times he must have read this one post.  While people were in need of ministry.  It's good to know someone's watching for mistakes.  Now if he'll just give someone else a turn.  As for his smart-ass comment about the Allmans...I forgive him.  It's just my gracious nature.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"If You Don't Know Me By Now"

Teddy Pendergrass died this week.  He'd been seriously injured in an auto accident years ago but passed away from colon cancer.  Enough of that.

Ah, the memories.

My hometown's AM station, WBAF "The Mighty 1090", played some great stuff in the afternoon when I was a teenager.  Wimbley Waters owned the station, but Danny Johnson spun the vinyl.  WBAF was a stone's throw from our house, and I used to do voice-over ads there, mainly for Daddy's service station ("...that Roscoe's gone crazy...I can't believe what he's doing this week...if [insert product here] was any cheaper we'd have to pay you to take it home...").  But I digress.

Danny played the hits but couldn't pronounce hardly anything else.  He did the news:  "...the Vietmanese...hit a tefelone pole...".  You get the picture.  But again, he played some great stuff. 

Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes ("If You Don't Know Me By Now", "The Love I Lost"), The Chi-Lites ("Have You Seen Her?", "Oh Girl"), The O'Jays ("Backstabber", "Love Train"), The Spinners ("I'll Be Around", "Could It Be [I'm Falling In Love]?") among others.

And the standards:  The Temptations ("My Girl", "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" and fourteen Number Ones) , The Swinging Medallions ("Double Shot of My Baby's Love"), and The Four Tops ("Baby I Need Your Lovin'", "I Can't Help Myself [Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch]") among others.

They're all either old, dying, or dead.  But their music lives on.  And takes me back to a time when, like that Toby Keith song, "I Wish I Didn't Know Then What I Didn't Know Now".

If only.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Check's In The Mail

So....NBC is paying Conan O'Brien $45 million to disappear.  Not bad for a few months' work. 

I have an idea.

If GM will pay me half that amount--$22.5 million--I'll stop selling Fords.  And I'll even entice some of my co-workers to leave with me, sharing the wealth the American way.  Even though it was my idea.

My limited understanding is that Jay Leno wanted his old job back, and NBC was still on the hook with him for a truckload of cash.  And that O'Brien as host of "The Tonight Show" sucked.

There were other alternatives batted around:  moving "The Jay Leno Show" to the 11:35pm slot, keeping Conan as "The Tonight Show" host and moving it to 12:35am.  Which would make it "The Early Tomorrow Morning Show", effectively retiring the "Tonight" name.  And Jimmy Fallon--the funniest of the three--would be pitted against every infomercial available.

NBC must stand for No Body Cares.  I miss Johnny Carson.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Devil Went Down To Mama's

I read this morning in the AJC that Charlie Daniels suffered a stroke last Friday while snowmobiling in Colorado.  At 73 years old.  Snowmobiling.  73 years old.  You can't make this stuff up.

Charlie ate breakfast at Mama's house back in the mid-70s.  I'd been in Macon that night and met Charlie through some mutual "brothers".  He looked like a grizzly bear but was one of the most down-to-earth people you'd ever want to meet.  One thing led to another, and before you knew it we were headed to Mama's.

She cooked bacon and eggs and biscuits and gravy for our scraggly group.  I'm not sure she knew (or cared) who was in her kitchen.  She just loved cooking for folks.  She made sure we said the blessing before we ate.

On the way to Mama's we talked about where we were, and where we were supposed to be.  Neither of us were at the second place, and we were both pretty miserable living in the first.

But things happen.  Times--and people--change.  Charlie ended up coming back to his spiritual roots, and so did I.  I think we're both better for it.

I'd like to think Mama's breakfast blessing had a little to do with where we both ended up. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

As I read an email today from yet another wildly satisfied customer, I was reminded of this saying and how it applied to my car-buying life so far.  This customer told me his new Ford was his favorite, but not his first love.  I know the feeling, brother.  If you love cars like I do, you'll understand.  If you don't, no amount of explanation will suffice.

I am fifty-three years old (I know, I know, I don't look that old) and have owned fifty-one vehicles since I was sixteen, some of them more than once.  There are a few that have owned me, others I've wanted to own and didn't, more I've wanted to own and couldn't.  Just a sampling:

--1971, 1989 Mustangs--enough said.  Those two cars got me in a lot of trouble.  A lot.  And yet, I still want one several.  I'll clarify later.

--1965 Ford Falcon Sprint--Red, Red, RED.  Jacked up, Cragar wheels, tight as it could be.  It was a sleeper Mustang (same chassis/drivetrain).  I couldn't have hid in that car if I'd wanted to.  I'd get pulled over for stopping at a traffic signal.  Ah, if cars could talk...I'd shoot that one before it could finish its first sentence.

--1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo--Sandalwood Beige, vinyl top and all.  350-cubic-inch, four-barrel engine.  I loved that car.  I put different wheels and tires on it, air shocks, but you couldn't improve on the bodystyle and panache.  I "fell" in love in that car.  More than once.

--1971 Pontiac Grand Prix S/T--455ci, Holley 550 carb, competition crank.  It sounded like it wouldn't get out of its own way at a traffic signal, then it would eat every other car's lunch and pop the bag.  It also had a CB radio.  Daddy's handle was "The Silver Fox" and mine was "Bear".  Breaker, breaker, one-nine, what's your twenty?  Those were the days.  I'm glad they're gone.

--1970 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight--four doors, true hardtop, copper gold with a HUGE interior.  You could fit thirty-seven people in it and manage to lose track of thirty-three.  It was a land yacht and drove like one.  I made that car look good.  And it. would. fly.  But it. wouldn't. stop.

--1966 Mercury Montclair--another beast, affectionately dubbed "The Silver Bullet".  Yes, before Coors Light, there was this car.  It looked like a limo and drove like one, too.  People rode in it and didn't want to get out.  Some are still in it, wherever it is.

--1955 Ford Crown Victoria--if I'd have known Daddy was going to sell this car while I was away at college, I'd have tried to buy it.  Sadly, it was not to be.  He knew I didn't have a "bag of money" (which is what he told me he both bought and sold it for).  I loved that car, turquoise and white, with a 292ci Thunderbird engine.  And it's a great memory.

--1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442--I saw this car on my sixteenth birthday while in Atlanta.  It was at Mitchell Motors downtown.  I told my dad excitedly about it.  He excitedly asked me how I was going to pay for it.  I excitedly told him I thought he'd buy it for me.  He calmly explained that I would have to pay for my first car.  I bought the red Falcon.  I never did get a Cutlass.

--1971 Pantera--I was driving on I-10 just outside of New Orleans when I saw my first Pantera.  It was low-slung, black, and the exhaust fumes spelled "POWERED BY FORD".  I fell in love with it.  Right up until I found out how much they cost.

--1973 Jensen Healey--Midnight Blue, Cashmere convertible top, this beauty was owned by Col. Chuck Patton, USMC Retired.  He, I, and Daddy were the only people who ever drove this British piece of art.  He offered to sell it to me for $4300 in 1975.  I thought that was too much.  One just like it sold at Barrett-Jackson two years ago for $87,000.  I guess it wasn't too much after all.  I'm an idiot.

--1967 Cougar--289 four-barrel, it was owned by Tim Evans on Carleeta Street in Barnesville.  How do I remember all this?  A)  The Cougar was Lime Green Metallic, and 2) my next-door neighbor ended up buying it after Tim refused to come off the price $25 and I refused to pay $25 more than I offered.  Again, I'm an idiot.

--1965 Mustang 2+2--it would have to be black, with a red interior.  The 2+2 had the 289 Hi-Po engine and was a stone cold fox.  One bad ride, and it would make me look good in my declining years.

--1968 Mustang GT--this one had the 302ci V8 and was the beginning of Mustang's performance glory days.  Again, black on black on black.  I'd wear black when I drove it.

--1971 Boss 429--I dream.  I couldn't afford the insurance on one then, and I couldn't afford the gas for one now.  But it would look great in the garage.

--2011 Mustang GT--oh, I wait.  The 5.0 is coming back, bigger and badder than ever.  I'll take mine in black, please (as if you didn't already know).  Add the Track Package, and I'll have more horses in that pony than I'll ever need.  But there won't be a teenager in Northeast Georgia that can make me look old.

My plan is to buy these cars when I make my second million.  I've given up on my first.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Family Matters

Since my post about the numerous attempts on my life, I've been chastened by friends and family alike.  Thankfully none of them have tried to kill me.  Yet.

Oh, I've deserved to die, or at least be seriously wounded.  At times I've lived in such a way that I wanted to die.  But no more.

My family saved my life.

There's my sweetheart, Jennie.  When the preacher said "'til death do us part" she didn't hesitate.  When he said "for better or worse" he probably should have read a disclaimer.  She didn't know how worse worse would be.  Nor did I.

But she stood strong, tall, and by me.  I'll be forever grateful, and in love with her.

Now let me say right here that our parents and their parents and so on laid the groundwork for who we, and our children, are, but for brevity's sake I'm simplifying who got what from whom.  It's like that great theologian Michael Scott once said:  "I want all of the credit and none of the blame."  If only that could be so.

John Nathan, our oldest child, is a brilliant young man with a sharp mind and wit to match.  He reminds me of me, especially his sarcastic wit.  It's a gift.  And a curse.  But he also has a kind spirit;  he'll do anything within his power to help anybody he can.  That's cost him in the past.  But one thing's for sure:  you'll always know where he stands on an issue.  He's not arrogant, just blunt.  And right.

Jason Carder, the "middle child", is so much like my late father that it's scary.  His heart, his mannerisms, his personality...he even looks like Daddy.  He has a heart of gold and the goods to back it up.  He, too, has the gift/curse of sarcasm, which, when used sparingly and wisely, is unnerving.

Emily Brooke...what can I say?  She's her mama up and down.  She's sensitive and sweet, tough and tender.  She expects the best from herself--and others--and that can be a deadly combination.  She's going to make some undeserving man a great wife.  If only he can handle her.  She's my princess.

My Mama and sister Susie live about ten minutes away from us.  Mama wants to just give and give and give, until she's worn out.  She makes the best biscuits you can put in your mouth.  If you took a plate of her biscuits and put them on top of your head, your tongue would fly up and slap your brains out.  She's always believed in me and stood behind me, no matter what.  John gets his "bluntness" from her.  You may not like what she says, but you won't misunderstand what she means.  She prays for me and my family, and we can feel it.  She's a rock...and I love her.

Susie is a jewel.  Got a question about sports (particularly her Braves)?  She knows the answer.  I picked her up from the hospital after having a cardiac stint put in and all the way home we talked about SportsCenter.  In the hospital, she watched ESPN.  There's not another like her in the world.  If there ever was a saint, Susie's one.

Family matters.  When all is said and done, they're really all that matters.

And mine is the best.  Just ask 'em.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On In-Laws And Dying Young

My father-in-law, Raymond Coppage, had emergency surgery late Tuesday evening.  He's 78 years old, a retired (60+ years) Southern Baptist pastor, and lives in Vero Beach, Florida.  He made it through surgery without complications and is recovering in the local hospital there.

While his physical condition isn't funny, the situation brought a couple of things to mind:

A)  we promised each other years ago that, in the event that one of us died, and the other was still living, the living one would speak at the dead one's funeral.  I am convinced this will enable him to outlive me by at least five or six days, long enough for my viewing, wake, going-away party, and funeral.

2)  he has been an accessory to my attempted murder on at least three occasions.

I had been married for less than a month the first time Jennie's family tried to kill me.  My sweetheart and I went to her grandparents' home in Quitman, Georgia, to visit, and the first night we were there we went to her uncle's house for supper.  We had fish.  I love fish.  I grew up on channel cats and bream.  I'd had red snapper, drum, shark, and king mackerel.  I love fish.

That night we had mullet.

Now, anytime a fish is named after a bad haircut or vice versa, it should throw up a red flag.  Instead, I just threw up.

About midnight, I got this awful feeling that precipitates puking my guts out.  I'd felt it before, but usually I was at the end of a bad night or the beginning of a very bad morning.  Jennie had never been with me when I was nauseated, so this would be an adventure for her.

I am not quiet when I vomit.  My philosophy is "the louder I am, the quicker I'll finish."  Not to be gross (too late), but vomiting can only be made worse by one thing:  diarrhea.  Fortunately, I had both.

So as I sat on the throne, turning inside out, my new bride was trying to "help".  She stood behind me, her loving hand on my shoulder.  Here's the conversation.

Me:  "uunnnaaaaAAAARRRGGGUNNNN".
Her:  "Honey, unnn...unnn...unnNN".
Me:  "Go back to bed.  I can't clean up after both of us."

Right then I learned that she can't help anyone who's throwing up.  Without throwing up on them.

I'd eaten supper before.  I'd eaten fish before.  The only thing I hadn't done was eat fish for supper with my in-laws.

The second attempt on my life occurred while I was fishing with my father-in-law in Lake Okeechobee.  Not on the lake--in the lake.  There had been a drought in south Florida, and we were taking advantage of the lake level being down to slaughter some bream and crappie.  I had a stringer hooked to my beltloop and was sliding fish down it as fast as I could catch them.  Raymond had a similar setup, and we were wading through the waist-deep water several yards apart.  I kept feeling something brush up against my leg and told him so.  He told me it was a turtle.

It was an alligator, which I'm sure Raymond had hired just for this occasion.  He was eating the fish off my stringer as an appetizer before having my left leg for lunch.

When I saw the fish on my stringer were gone, save a lone fish head, I told him I was through fishing for the day and walked on top of the water back to the truck, where I waited for him to finish so we could go home and I could change my pants.

The last time he tried to kill me was on Blue Cypress Lake, also in south Florida.  You'd have thought that I would have known better than to go fishing with him again, but you'd be wrong, wouldn't you?

It was raining.  We were coming back across the lake, headed for the boat ramp.  Raymond was driving, his son Ray was bailing water out of the back of the boat, and I was sitting on the bow from where I had been fishing.  I am not making this up.  All of a sudden, Raymond whipped the boat around and we headed back towards where we had just come from.  Why?  Ray's hat flew off and went into the water.  I'm sure it must have cost at least $3.

I held on for dear life.  If you've ever ridden on the bow of a speedboat (I wouldn't recommend it) then you know what's up there to hold on to.  Nothing.  I managed to turn around, get up on my knees, and grab the top of the windshield.  I swear I saw a creepy smile cross my father-in-law's face.  Maybe he was happy I'd almost fell off.  Or maybe it was indigestion.

Obviously I survived.  As did Raymond after his surgery.  He's a man of faith, trusting God with his life, and that carried him through.

Or maybe he was thinking about attempt number four.

UPDATE:  My son Carder reminded me about the time I was visiting my in-laws and, after having put some jelly on my toast, I licked the spoon before replacing in in the jar.  This is NOT a capital offense in the State of Florida.  Therefore, the attempts on my life are not considered justifiable homicide.  However, in Georgia, if you lick the spoon and put it back before you offer to share it with your cousin, he/she is completely within state law to kill you.  Unless you're married to her.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Headlines That Aren't, Continued

I  almost said, "Part Two" instead of "continued", but that suggests an ending of some sort, and I'm convinced that this type of journalism will be around for a long, long time.

From here, an article containing lots of fun missteps from what are probably otherwise respectable journalists:

"USE CLOTHING TO KEEP WARM DURING WINTER"--Captain Obvious is on the prowl.  Again.

"What constitutes a millionaire?"  (Can you see where this is headed?)
"A millionaire is someone who has $1 million..."

Concerning a crime:  "We've got two is that James knew the person who did this and the other is that he did not."  I have a third theory....



About a plane crash:  "So far, they have determined that the crash occurred when the plane struck the ground..." paraphrase that great theologian Ron White, I bet they beat the ambulances there by at least thirty minutes.

"DEATH IS NATION'S TOP KILLER"--followed closely by stupidity.


And finally..."REPORT ON REPORTS SEES TOO MANY REPORTS"--welcome to The Department of Redundancy Department.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

They Call Alabama The Crimson Tide

I know it's been a day or two since the BCS Championship game, but I have to say some things.  Not only about the game itself, but also about the broadcast.  Mainly about the broadcast.

I've been an Alabama fan since I was a teenager, mostly because of Bear Bryant, and because two of my good friends played football for "the Bear".  I was so avid that, while in college, my roommate and friend Mike gave me a Crimson Tide toilet seat for Christmas one year and told me to frame the Bear's picture in it.  Among other things he told me to do with it.

Anyway, you'da thought listening to Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit as they called the game Thursday night that the only team playing was the Texas Longhorns.  And that they won, handily.

I got excited when I saw Keith Jackson during the coin toss.  Keith Jackson is The Man when it comes to broadcasting college football.  I say "Alabama" the same way he does:  AAAALL-AAA-BAMA!  I hoped against hope that he would be in the booth, since he broadcast all the other Tide games.  He wasn't.

Instead, I got Musburger and "Herbie", as he kept calling Herbstreit.  (As an aside, if I was a grown man, and another grown man called me Herbie, I'd take his head off.)  I like Kirk on ESPN's College Gameday, and I don't like Musburger anywhere, anytime.  I don't know the man personally, so my opinion is purely professional.

I'd rather hear Donald Duck do the play-by-play than Musburger, or "Brentie" as I like to call him.

It was obvious from the outset that he was a Texas fan.  Here's an example:

Brentie:  "The 'Horns stop Alabama at the 13!  What a dee-fense!  They're amazing!"
Herbie:  "Alabama scored a touchdown, Brentie."
Brentie:  "But that defense!  Should be a flag somewhere on that play!  Those Longhorns!  THEY'RE AMAZING!"

All.  Night.  Long.

Colt McCoy, the Texas quarterback, got knocked out early in the game.  He was replaced by a freshman, Garret Gilbert, who looked like a future Heisman Trophy winner.  After which the Crimson Tide scored 24 unanswered points.

But all Brentie could talk about was the Longhorns.  And Colt McCoy.

Brentie:  "You know, Herbie, McCoy being knocked out has really hurt the 'Horns defense."
Herbie:  "I didn't know McCoy played defense, Brentie."

All.  Night.  Long.

Texas fought hard in the second half, but the Big News was that McCoy wouldn't be returning to the game.  This information was delivered by Walter Cronkite, back from the grave to make sure the report had the same gravity as a political assassination or natural disaster.

Even when Alabama won, 37-21, Brentie was still in love with Texas.  Thankfully he was not on the podium when the trophy was presented, or it might be in Austin this morning.

I miss Keith Jackson.  Or "Keithie", as he likes to be called.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Today is Elvis Presley's 75th birthday.

I'm not sure where he is, or if he'll show up at the Graceland celebration.  If he does, it'll put a lot of speculation to rest.  If he doesn't, it'll be like every other year since 1978.

I was an Elvis fan when being an Elvis fan wasn't cool.  I grew up with that Black Velvet voice, that curled lip, and that one of a kind charisma.

I saw all his movies, went to concerts, and imitated him at every opportunity.  I was laying on the beach at Daytona Beach one day when I felt a shadow between me and the sun.  I opened one eye to see a lady standing over me, and she asked, "Does anyone ever tell you how much you look like Elvis?"

I said, "Thank you.  Thank you very much."

My father-in-law called me when a documentary aired the year after Elvis' death.  He said, "There's a show on TV saying Elvis is still alive."  In my best Elvis voice, I said, "You sound surprised."

I hardly ever hear an Elvis song without seeing him again.  In Atlanta, at the Omni, in the early 70s, in his prime.  In the documentary "That's The Way It Is", long before that guy they called the King of Pop was remembered in "This Is It".  I have to tell you, Elvis was "it".

In Macon, Georgia, at the Coliseum, in June 1977.  I was shocked at his appearance, and told my date I didn't think he'd live six months.  He made it until August.

There will never be another like him.  Countless impersonators imitate, but cannot duplicate, that voice and persona.  Most of his fans are in their twilight now, but to them he'll be forever young.

I'm almost always humming one of his songs.  He sang to generations and changed music forever.  He earns more dead than he did while alive.  His body of work is timeless.

He'll always be dressed in black leather, attacking the microphone, captivating his audience.

And yes, I'm lonesome tonight.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Snowmageddon" 2010

It's snowing in the North Georgia mountains.

This is not a big thing to me.  Having survived numerous hurricanes during my time in Florida, and being from this area originally, snow is...well, interesting.  For any number of reasons.

Remember, there are two distinct groups of people in these mountains:  the been-heres and the come-heres.  The been-heres pretty much know how, and when, to drive in the snow.  The come-heres, on the other hand, are very--very--unpredictable.

(As I wrote this, Tater, a guy from our detail shop, called in to say he'd driven into a ditch.  When I asked him where, he replied, "You know."  I don't.  Someone's gone to pull him out.  He's a been-here, so there goes that theory.)

A young lady came into the dealership yesterday afternoon (she's the one I stole who used "snowmageddon" originally) with a dire warning:  stay away from Kroger, for at least two reasons:  A)  it was Senior Adult day and 2)  snow was in the forecast.

Senior Adult "days" always amaze me.  First of all, the prerequisite age for a "senior adult" varies from place to place.  Buying a residence in an "Adult Community"?  Most of them are "55 and Older".  This looms large on the Randy Horizon, since I am closing in on that age.

Go to IHOP and try to get a Senior Adult Discount?  65+.  I don't know if I can wait that long.  Guess I'll stick with Waffle House, where what you pay is what you pay,  no matter how old or young you are or aren't.  But I digress.

Kroger on Senior Adult Day is like a nursing home on crack.  Older Georgians are there by the busload, some alone, some couples, some lost.  Staples fly off the shelves, all at a discount because you're old enough to qualify and young enough to pay.  Combine that with all the panicked mamas stocking up on milk and bread for the coming blizzard, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Why are bread and milk so important?  How about wine and cheese?  Or Cokes and brownies?  I can see it now:  it's snowing outside, and you're cuddling by the fire with your sweetheart.  You turn to her, look longingly in her eyes, and lovingly say, "Baby, hand me another slice of bread.  And get me some more milk."

All this mayhem and foolishness, for what forecasters predict will be about seven hours of snow, maybe one to two inches in the mountains.

I have milk.  And bread.  And snow.  I am not going to Kroger.

My Christmas tree is still up for the Big Game tonight (ROLL TIDE!).

It's a White Christmas.  In January.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Headlines That Aren't

While in college I had the opportunity to take a journalism course under the teaching of Billy Watson, then-editor of the Macon Telegraph.  Being a morning person, the 7:00am class time didn't bother me.  Neither did the fact that Billy (he made us call him by his first name), who had just come fresh from publishing that day's Telegraph, always seemed to find something to point out in other newspapers' editions that, well, just wasn't right.  He showed us a book called All The News Not Fit To Print, a compilation of mis-written headlines and articles from newspapers all over the world.  He also taught us how to properly write headlines for everything from world disasters to obituaries.  I loved it.

I got an email from my friend George this morning that reminded me of that class, and Billy Watson, who would surely cringe at these authentic headlines.  Which aren't.  And I can't help but comment, because sarcasm is a blessing.  And a curse.



PANDA MATING FAILS;  VETERINARIAN TAKES OVER--this vet's a real man.  Pandas aren't known for their gentle nature.

MINERS REFUSE TO WORK AFTER DEATH--must be a union thing.

JUVENILE COURT TO TRY SHOOTING DEFENDANT--apparently jail time wasn't enough.

WAR DIMS HOPE FOR PEACE--statement from Captain Obvious' brother, Colonel Oblivious.


COLD WAVE LINKED TO TEMPERATURES--where's global warming when you need it?

RED TAPE HOLDS UP NEW BRIDGES--apparently the DOT ran out of cement.

MAN STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, FACES BATTERY CHARGE--he just keeps on going, and going, and...


ASTRONAUT TAKES BLAME FOR GAS IN SPACECRAFT--that's what you get when you replace Tang with Taco Bell.

KIDS MAKE NUTRITIOUS SNACKS--but you really need gravy for the full effect.

LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS CUT IN HALF--Shop class stayed busy that day.

HOSPITAL SUED BY SEVEN FOOT DOCTORS--if they were that tall I'd give 'em what they wanted.

TYPHOON RIPS THROUGH CEMETERY, HUNDREDS DEAD--people were dying to get in there anyway.

I'm sure if you look closely, you can find headlines like these every day.  The amazing thing is they have to make it past proofreaders to get published.  The sad thing is they make it past proofreaders to get published.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


As I mentioned previously, I was fortunate enough to attend yesterday's Gator Bowl in Jacksonville with my son.  A college friend of his and I drove down New Year's Eve to meet Carder and Eric, his brother-in-law, for the game between FSU and West Virginia.  Here's the play-by-play along with some color commentary.

11:40pm, New Year's Eve--we arrive at our hotel just south of Jacksonville.  It was 31 degrees when I left North Georgia and 65 when I got out of the truck.  I thought this would be great weather for the game.  I thought wrong.  Instead of being one wrong thought it was a sign of things to come.  More on that later.

11:42pm--Carder meets me at the door and we turn around to meet our "shuttle" outside.  The "shuttle" was a pickup whose driver was a woman named Linda, who made a point of telling us she was from West Virginia.  I, in turn, remarked about what a coincidence that was since we, too, were from the Mountaineer State.  Linda drives with abandon as I call my sweetheart to tell her Happy New Year.

12:02pm, New Year's Day--every bridge crossing the St. John's River in Jacksonville is a drawbridge.  I know this since we are sitting in line waiting for ours to be lowered so we can get to Jacksonville Landing.  We're going there because Carder bought a package deal for the game which included a card entitling us to free drinks at several establishments in the Landing.  Jacksonville Landing was originally an upscale plaza on the east side of the St. John's River downtown.  That was twenty-some-odd years ago.  Now it's like a bad strip-mall.  And we didn't have coupons for free drinks at several establishments, only one drink at our choice of several establishments, most of which--believe it or not--were closing by the time we got there.  Except for one.  Hooters.  I go there for the wings. 

12:33am--we navigate our way through every drunk in Duval County trying to find Hooters (I go there for the wings).  After we are seated, on the outside patio just behind the featured band, we get our free drink.  My beer looks like colored water.  It tastes like sparkling river water.  Carder buys us a real drink.

1:28am--Brandon calls Linda, who tells us she'll pick us up in thirty minutes.  While he's on the phone, a guy pulls up in an old Pontiac van with a handwritten sign on the dash that says "shuttle" and approximately 300 people rush to get in.  All of whom have no cash on them.  But I do, so we hop in, along with a couple from West Virginia (as we are) who are rip-roaring drunk.  They don't know where their hotel is, they just know it's south of Jacksonville.  Our ride costs us forty dollars.  No telling what theirs ended up costing.

2:02am--bedtime.  It's clear and 62 outside.  This will not last.

6:15am--I get up and shower.  You know how hotels have one soap for the sink and one for the shower?  Not this one.  And how they supply shampoo?  Not this one.  2010 is not starting off well.

I go downstairs and have two frozen biscuits, warmed up in a microwave, topped with the best sausage gravy you can get from a can.  As the sun comes up, I notice that the sun doesn't come up.  It's cloudy, so I step outside to see how warm it is.  It isn't.  It's 46 degrees and rain begins to fall.  This is why they call Florida the Sunshine State.

8:20am--we leave for Alltel Stadium, A) because part of our package includes tickets for the Bud Tailgate Party, and 2) because we want to get a good vantage point for the Seminole Walk at 10:30.  Our pre-assigned, reserved parking is in Lot Z, located in Brunswick, Georgia.  I am hoping West Virginia Linda or Pontiac Man will happen to show up and give us a ride back to Florida.  It is still raining.

9:07am--we begin hitch-hiking to the Gator Bowl.  It is still raining.

9:11am--we begin walking to the Gator Bowl.  It is still raining.

9:38am--we take up a great position near the Press Platform for the Seminole Walk.  We know we'll be on TV, so I call Jennie to let her know where we're standing so she can watch for us on TV.  She and Emily are out shopping.

9:52am--It begins to snow.  I am not making this up.

Since I opted not to bring my jacket, thinking it would only be in the way, I am reminded when the snow turns to a steady rain that this is not the first misstep I have made on this trip.  Nor will it be the last.

10:23am--former Seminole players, many of whom have been paroled for the game, walk toward where the buses will stop to let coaches and players off for the Seminole Walk.  I wonder silently if I will see Mickey Andrews, FSU's Defensive Coordinator.  He, along with Bobby, built this team from the ground up.

10:33am--The Marching Chiefs, FSU's band, plays the fight song.  It won't be long now.  Carder and I speculate what the band would be like if it was made up of Labrador Retrievers (like Chief, his dog).  We laugh, and the wind and rain freeze our mouths instantly.  We look like the Joker.  We feel like the Idiots.

10:48am--Coach Bowden and his wife Ann are right in front of us, close enough to touch if our arms weren't frozen into our pants pockets.  We can't wave, so we try to yell "Bobby!"  It comes out "Whyyy sooo serioussss?"  In a sick way, I hope this Joker thing lasts.

11:11am--two hours to kickoff.  We forego the Tailgate Party for the car heater.  I am soaked to the bone.  My clothes will not be dry today.  Mickey Andrews was not in the Seminole Walk.  I make this observation to Carder.  He replies "Whyyy sooo serioussss?"  I swing at him with my frozen left arm.  It breaks off and falls into the center console.

12:06pm--we begin the long walk from Lot Z to the stadium.  I look at my ticket.  Section 430, Row HH, seat 8.  My experience says anytime a ticket row reads in double digits it's not a good sign.  I am thankful we're not on Row ZZ.  I do not know, at this point, that there is no Row ZZ.  Guess which row is the last--and highest--one in Section 430?  And is also on the WVU side?

What has 44 legs and 8 teeth?  No, not the front row at a Willie Nelson concert.  Section 430, Row GG, Alltel Stadium.  And they're all from West Virginia.

12:38pm--we arrive at our seats.  I am at the highest point in Alltel Stadium.  My clothes are still wet, it is still raining, the wind is still blowing, and I can see Stone Mountain in Georgia.

12:50pm--we stand for the National Anthem.  Fighter jets from the Beaufort, South Carolina, Air Force base fly over in the "missing man" formation.  I shake one pilot's hand as he flies over me.

Three minutes and forty-five seconds into the game WVU scores.  Seminole Nation, or at least the part in the nosebleed section, is concerned.  FSU marches down the field and manages a field goal.  It is still raining.  If I stand up I can climb into the Directtv blimp.  Also, I can get blown about from four different directions.  Carder mentions that neither his wife or his mama would be happy here.  I don't tell him that I'm not happy either.  I can't.  It's too cold.

FSU goes on to score thirty unanswered points to win the game, 33-21.  After circling Jacksonville for about an hour we find I-95 and head out.  I will eventually dry out and warm up, but I have to stop for gas in Whitehouse, childhood home of the Van Zandts of Lynyrd Skynyrd.  When I go in to pay for the gas, coming out of the store is Mickey Andrews.  He looks at me, says, "Hey, Bud" like we've known each other for years, and I shake his hand and thank him for all his hard work.  I call Carder to rub it in.  He takes it well.

1:07am, January 2, 2010--I pull into the driveway.  It is 23 degrees, but it's not raining.  I smell like a wet dog and my face is wind-chapped.  But I don't have to Wait Until Next Year.  It's already next year.

And the Florida State Seminoles are 1-0.  This will be a good year.