Saturday, October 22, 2016

October 22, 2016

I love this team.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Family Plot

Cherie Priest's The Family Plot tie together a couple of favorites:  good Southern writing, and a helluva ghost story.

Pre-ordered that one from the nice folks at Amazon back when it was announced.  Got it in the mail a couple or three weeks back (may be more...time's funny out here).  Been reading it in large chunks.  All told, I read this one in about five sittings.  I read the last 100 pages this afternoon.

Family Plot concerns a salvage business taking apart a house in Chattanooga's St. Elmo neighborhood.  It's a risky deal for the ailing company, but one that could provide an amazing windfall, if it pans out.  Chuck Dutton asks newly-divorced daughter Dahlia to head up a team to begin the salvage operation for Music City Salvage.

Dahlia leads a team of family members and newbies into the picking apart of the Withrow Mansion, located at the foot of Lookout Mountain.  Priest maintains a surprisingly strong, thick atmosphere through, and manages to subtly bump the creep factor as the book progresses.  Dahlia sees a woman in a yellow dress.  Other team members see a child, others see a soldier standing in a graveyard at one corner of the property:  a graveyard professed to be a generations old joke, by the woman who sold Music City the salvage rights.

I'm a sucker for a good ghost story, and a couple times, I found myself drawing my feet up off the floor, feeling a chill.  It's rare that a writer does that.  So, kudos to Ms. Priest.

Without getting too much into spoiling the story, the action amps up significantly in the last quarter of the story, and draws to an ending that left me grinning ear to ear.

I recommend the book.  Give it a look....

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

A funny, timely picture

Want to know the truth?  This election frightens me.

This guy, fueled by a decade or three's worth of dumbass, redneck indignation, could be our next President.

I've had folks I didn't want to be President in the past.

I've even seen them win.

I've never been afraid, though, of what the world might look like afterward.


If you have the chance to prep for a grocery inventory?  I'd skip it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Turner Field

The Atlanta Braves are finishing up their last season at Turner Field.  In the midst of another crazy busy stretch where I worked 16 days out of 18, and it wasn't a sure thing that I was going to get the day off, I took Shyam down to Atlanta to see the Braves play the Nationals.

She roots for the Nationals.  This has not been a bone of contention between us.  However, we will see what this postseason brings.

Anyway.  I've always been a well-wisher for the Braves.  A supporter, I reckon.  They're a couple or three hours south of here, depending on Atlanta traffic.  I had a stretch where I saw at least one game in Atlanta for 23 seasons or so.  That got broken a couple of years ago, where things just didn't pan out.

That being the case, I've seen a lot of baseball at Turner Field, which has become a casualty of the disposable economy we've crafted that is built by the lowest bidder and succumbs to the idea that Newer is Automatically Better.  The Braves are moving next year up the road a few miles to Marietta.  It's a move that gives me mixed emotions, despite this aggravation.  I'll say that one of the things that's kept me from hitting more Braves games in the past handful of years is my own lack of willingness to fight Atlanta traffic.  I'm not sure how many more miles it saves moving from around the capitol, but there's a difference of about 12 mile markers.  That difference has meant anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the rush hour.  Assuming clear roadways, I could make it from work to the Marietta stadium in a much less daunting 2 hours (or less).

Still, the David Cross bit about the suburbs of Atlanta, where it stays White out later keeps popping to mind.

Anyway.  There was a call to Elisson to see if they would enjoy taking in a baseball contest.  Alas, they were already planning something for the day.  We'll hit a game with them soon.  They've been inviting me down for years, and even with my crazy schedule, I'm a bit of a heel for not having taken them up on the offer.

We arrived about an hour before game time, so that we could take one more stroll around the stadium.  Lots of memories there.  Lots of Cubs games, including a couple of playoff games.  A few more Braves postseason games.  Lots of hot summer Atlanta days spent watching the Red Sox, or the Yankees, or the Cardinals, or the Astros or any number of opponents wander through.

Favorite memory?  Finding out the Cubs were making a two-game early season visit the same night as a meeting about 50 miles north.  Wandered to the game after the meeting, walked up and got a seat on the wall right off the right field line.  Had Carlos Zambrano make eye contact and give me a nod as he made his way to the bullpen for warmups.

For this game?  Saw the Nationals pitching struggle against a Braves lineup that played surprisingly good small ball and situational baseball.  Aside from loading the bases early on with no outs and bringing a goose egg from that inning, the Braves played great ball.

I don't take many pictures of the action.  I did take a picture of Joe West, who's tied with Doug Eddings for my least favorite umpire in baseball.  He didn't do much of note in this game at the third base position except for calling no swing on a couple of pitches where it looked like the Nationals batter did actually break the plane of the plate....

Here he is drinking a bottle of water.

At least, I think it's water.

He isn't a good umpire.

He makes bad decisions.

The rains came late in an otherwise quickly moving game.  One rain delay chased us onto the concourse.  

Play resumed, but rains came again, and continued long after they should have been suspended.  The infield was soaked.


It was during the second rain delay that we caught this rainbow beyond the right field stands.

The rain delay continued as the grounds crew worked to get the infield back to playable.

Shyam and I were watching the radar on the weather app, and saw another string of showers heading toward the stadium.

Meanwhile, Nationals skipper Dusty Baker went out to test the infield.

Mere seconds after this one was snapped, the rains came again.  Shyam and I made a decision neither of us has made before:  we left a ballgame early.

Or did we?

By the time we got to the car and turned on Braves' broadcast, they were announcing the score as final.

Two last items of note:  we hit dinner at a Cracker Barrel in Adairsville, Georgia.  They were crowded--a busload of Tennessee State athletes had gotten into the restaurant just before we did, and the wait staff was a little overwhelmed.  A waitress noticed Shyam and me waiting for drinks, and she took our order.  Our drinks were brought by a second waitress, and our food by a third.  We flagged down a manager after eating to get our bill.  I was entertaining watching three different waitresses poke their heads out from behind the kitchen door and shake their heads in the negative.  The manager couldn't find our tickets.  He gave us free Cracker Barrel.  More power to that man!!!!

Also, we are in the midst of a mostly media-fueled gasoline panic in this neck of the woods.  I noticed as I got on the interstate that the QT station next to the Cracker Barrel and the station across the street were both out of gas.

The panic has hit somewhat more lightly in Athens, this morning, as the Shell station near my house was out of everything but Hi-Test.

But I digress somewhat....

Anyway.  I'm glad we hit the game.  Glad we hit one more at Turner Field.  A shame that it won't be hosting Major League Baseball anymore.

Still, I look forward to the new stadium experience.

Glad of another quality day spent with Shyam.

Glad to get out of Dodge for a day.  Since returning from vacation, I'd worked 16 out of 18 days.  I've been covering for people quite a bit, and I'm tired.  It was good to refresh a little bit....

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Mental Refreshment

That mental refreshment I wrote about eight days ago, regarding the trip to Boston?


My first 122 hours back from vacation, I worked 62 of them.

It's frustrating.

I wish I didn't have to pay for a vacation by working a ridiculous stretch after.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Happy Labor Day!!!!

In celebration of Labor Day, I'll be working my seventh day straight.  I'll be celebrating by calling every number at the Home Office in sequence, and if I don't get an actual person, I'll congratulate them for reaching the Caste that actually gets to celebrate holidays.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Boston, and whatnot.

Just a quick couple notes....

Shyam and I wandered to Boston.  Back in May, she asked if I'd like to go with her to see The Dresden Dolls in Boston.  Sure, I said.  Sounds fun.

She and I work like mad.  And 2016 has been a rough year.  We haven't seen as much of each other this summer as we usually do.  And when we do, one or both of us is within spitting distance of exhaustion.

Our time for a trip was shortened even more with her needing to do a long delivery early in the week, and my Dad having hip replacement as well.

We left Riceville on Thursday.  We Drove about eleven hours, until we reached Kutztown, Pennsylvania.  We'd been using Google Maps as our navigator.  I'd been aiming for somewhere around Wilkes-Barre for the night.  It wasn't until after we'd pulled off for the night at the world's skeeviest Super 8 that I realized that our route had recalculated away from I-81.  We didn't get murdered, and that's about the only positive thing I can say about our experience there.

I saw this Pringles vending machine at a rest stop on the New York Thruway.  Will wonders never cease?

Just a side note...those big service centers were a favorite of the ride to my grandparents' house.  Cheseapeake and Delaware House were cool stops.  New York and Massachusetts had good ones.

One stop shopping for a Boston Market dinner, slice of pizza, bottle of Gatorade, new sunglasses, cup of Dunkin' coffee and a chai latte from Starbucks for Shyam.  And a Pringles machine.  I appreciate the convenience.

As an aside, only slightly related?  I'd like to give a shout out to the Pilot truckstops, too.  The most reliably clean bathrooms along our route.

The next day took us into Boston.  We got a room at the Residence Inn near the Harbor, within walking distance of the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion.  We had a beautiful night, and an easy walk to the show.  It was one Shyam had wanted to see since before the Dolls broke up.  There were only a couple choices, and Boston was the one she picked.

Can I recommend an opening act?  Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band is a fun little listen, and I suspect that their work will make its way into my writing mix.

The Dresden Dolls show itself was fun.  This is the third show involving Amanda Palmer that Shyam's taken me to.  And while the music isn't entirely my cup of tea, it is a great stage show.

Shyam thanked me a couple or three times for taking her.  Fact of the matter is, if the show had been on the Moon, I'd have done my damnedest to take her.

We spent the next morning walking around the harbor.  We toured the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art.  Lot of interesting stuff, but the one I'll spend time looking into is Nalini Malani--her installation work presented there bordered on the nightmarish, for me.  Definitely worth revisiting.

We also wandered through the Boston Tea Party museum.
In the interactive tour, visitors are given identities of the Tea Party members .  I was given the identity of Joseph Lovering. 

I've probably hit a half-dozen of these type historical exhibits involving naval vessels.  No matter how many times I go, I'm always struck at the small size of the ships.  To think you'd wander across a frigging ocean in something the same square footage of my living room and kitchen, with a little more underside for bunks.  Amazing, to me.

After that, we wandered toward upstate New York, just to take a little different route home.  We were almost toward hitting the Pennsylvania border when we were taken by a pretty nice sunset.  We managed to hit a scenic turnoff at just the right time.

Twas a good one.  Taken near Port Jervis, New York.

This time, we just followed roads.  We stayed the night in Wilkes-Barre, and meandered home Sunday.  We got back to Riceville somewhere around 9:45 or so last night.

Over 4 days, we drove 2062 miles.  And while many wouldn't call that relaxing, it was the longest stretch we've gotten to spend with each other since the spring.  Maybe since our trip out to Fall Creek Falls in January.  

I love her.  I'm lucky to have my best friend be such an enjoyable travel companion.  I'm glad we got this opportunity.  I hope we get another, soon.

It's back to the grind tomorrow.  I go back mentally refreshed, though, reminded that I am fortunate indeed to have her in my life.  

Thanks for the adventure, Shyam.  I love you.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Been wandering in a little bit of a funk the past couple or three days.  I started vacation today, so it was a little weird.  Here lately, it's rare to have 2 days off in a row (I haven't had two days off in a row that weren't associated with vacation time since the spring).

I thought about it this morning that today's Southern Brewers Festival down in Chattanooga.

It used to be an annual event.  It'd be a day when a large-ish group of us would get together.  Enjoy an afternoon.  Have a beer or two.  Listen to some music.

Three or four years, we'd get a hotel room in downtown, so as not to have to worry about driving home tired and tipsy.

It was a good weekend.  Where we got to enjoy being with friends.  Got to enjoy not working for a day.  I looked forward to it.  It was a good day.   I can't remember ever having a bad time.

As we grew older, it changed.  Job demands made it difficult.  Some people had kids.  Priorities changed.  Also, the festival got more expensive, for both admission and beer.

A couple of years ago, the group got down to just Shyam and me.  Which was fun, but truth be told, we could find better ways to spend our time and money if it was just the two of us.

Still, I miss it.

I'll sour grape my way through the day.  It's hot.  It's crowded.  It's expensive.

But I miss it.  I don't get to see my friends much, anymore.  Even the nearby ones.  Plans fall through.  Kids.  Work.  You  know how it goes.

Maybe that's the funk, too.  Being a grownup sucks, sometimes.

Anyway.  A little mawkish, this morning.

You folks that are going, raise a glass for me.  Enjoy that time.  It's a good one.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Big Stupid (Stranger) Tommy

Monday, August 08, 2016

Suicide Squad and Jason Bourne

Shyam and I wandered to the Swingin' Midway Drive-In last night.  Neither of us had to work this morning, so we could afford to stay out until 1:30 or 2 watching a couple of movies under the stars.

Also?  Team No Kids, so we don't have a school year to get ready for.

It was her first time heading out there this year, my second.  It rained like mad here in Athens before we headed out, but petered out on our way toward Etowah.  The whole of the night, we watched lighting skirt the horizons to the south and west.  The last half of the twinbill had me watching the weather radar on the phone, where a line of thunderstorms was moving through Chattanooga, Cleveland and Calhoun.  It missed us, though....

2016 has been a weird, rough year for movies.  There hasn't been much I've been really looking forward to, and what I have has been largely disappointing.

Captain America: Civil War was pretty tight, and probably the best of the summer.  I enjoyed X-Men: Apocalypse but acknowledge that it's something of a mess.  I also enjoyed Ghostbusters, which I hope makes bigger stars out of Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.

I was really hoping for good things with both Suicide Squad and Jason Bourne.

Suicide Squad was disappointing.  I was really hoping for something more.  Something fun.  Warner and DC can't seem to get behind the idea that the characters are a big reason the Marvel flick have been successful.  The events in and of themselves are sometimes subpar over with their Marvel counterparts (I mean, how many times can we finish a movie fighting a battle up in the sky?).  But the character interplay, depending largely on the charisma of the individual actors (Robert Downey, Jr, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Pratt all come to mind) and the chemistry of their interplay  (Downey/Evans are great together, as are Evans/Johannson, Downey/Ruffalo, as well as the entire cast of Guardians).

Suicide Squad has strong performances.  Will Smith brings good stuff, as do Margot Robbie and Viola Davis.  The interplay between Smith and Robbie is interesting (though I hesitate to call it good--there just isn't enough of it).  There's wasted talent.  This movie needed more conflict between characters (Shyam wisely points out that a team of sociopaths should have had, at the very least, more surface conflict and abrasion between characters).  This movie need some interesting comic relief, and it had the perfect outlet in Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang.  Instead, Boomerang spends the bulk of the movie sulking in corners and repeatedly retrieving his pink stuffed unicorn.

I feel like this one ended up with too many cooks, despite David Ayer being credited as both writer and director.  This one had Studio ReWrite and Studio Re Edit all over it.  There are parts that are visually amazing, and there's a laugh or two.  On the whole, I walked away disappointed, and a little angry at myself for expecting anything different.

Jason Bourne was fun, and while I welcomed the return of Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon back to the series.  It was fun, and satisfying in the ways I needed it to be.  Damon's good, Alicia Vikander is quite good.  Tommy Lee Jones continues his transition into a growling troll.  I can't say that Jason Bourne breaks any new ground, but I still found it satisfying.

Monday, July 25, 2016


I drive home on a 2 lane highway.  It's a major artery.  I'll drive about 60.  Which is faster than the speed limit but generally with the flow of traffic.

Today, I was second in a line of about seven or eight cars.  Eight in this line was a tan Jaguar.

Apparently, the driver of the Jaguar was in a hurry, as he decides to pass everybody in front of him.

From in between Cleveland, and Charleston, TN all the way to highway 11's terminus on Barsoom, Mars.

Actually, it was just everybody in that immediate line.

He didn't make it.  He had to swerve in front of me to miss oncoming traffic.  He missed the front of the car by inches.

At his next opportunity, he passed, and quickly came up on the city limits of Charleston, where the speed limit is 35, and they mean Thirty By God Five Miles an Hour, son!

He nearly has to ditch his car when a car in front of him has to stop at the Piggly Wiggly.

He then speeds up.  I'd estimate fifty, and that's conservative.

The balloon of schadenfreude that swells in my chest as the Charleston Police SUV pulls out from the Municipal Building's parking lot following him nearly lifted me off this planet.

Blue lights.

I shouldn't have, but I laughed myself hoarse.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Snopes, and whatnot

Go read this:

Campers, this is a beautiful, amazing time to live in.  We forget that.  It's too easy to become accustomed to things.  But stop and think.  We have an immeasurable breadth of information available to us as quickly as it takes you to ask "How tall was Warren G. Harding?"  I can talk to my phone.  In fact, as I typed this, I asked my phone, which is sitting on the coffee table this very question.  Turns out the man was 6'0" and had an amazing middle name.

Sadly, though, in this day an age, the amount of misinformation grows at the same rate as legit info.  If not faster.

This is compounded by the fact that there are those among us who see Boogeymen everywhere.  This is not new.  We have seen an Enemy nearly as long as there have been people.  The sad fact is, though, there are some who have to see Boogeymen.  Because it's easier.  Because it helps them sleep at night.  Because it's easier to say that the Boogeyman is Holding Me Down than it is to try harder, think harder and work harder.

At the end of the day, you don't have to believe everything on  In fact, you don't have to believe everything anybody says or writes.  It's good to have filters.  It's good to be skeptical.

I guess that's my point, standing up here on my Soapbox.  If you can find it in yourself to be skeptical about's intent and backing, then find it in yourself to be skeptical about the news story that FEMA is preparing coffins for some Illuminati-inspired calamity, or that Barry HUSSEIN Obama is looking to declare martial law to declare himself God King and Grand Poobah for Life of Americaland.

Another way I might say it:  Keep an open mind.  The fact of the matter is:  we all deal with a measure of confirmation bias.  We're in a difficult world with a lot of information being flung at us.  Sometimes, it's impossible not to look for something we agree with.  Still, take some time to read up on the opposing viewpoints.  Try to read some stuff by people you might disagree with.  Don't look only for the articles that agree that the Designated Hitter is bad.  Read the other stuff, if for no other reason than to de-boogeyman the argument.

In closing, the sentiment about walking away from the argument is strong.  It reminds me of one of my favorite lines that I am likely misquoting:  arguing with a fool is like wrestling with a pig: even if you win, the pig won't understand and just enjoyed the attention.

And remember:  there will always be some men you just can't reach....

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A proposal to the NBA

I don't watch the NBA.  I don't care for the NBA.  I haven't put a lot of thought into why I enjoy college basketball so much, but the NBA so little.  I haven't figured it necessary, and I just let that particular mystery be.

Still, it did not go unnoticed when Kevin Durant left his team in Oklahoma City to sign with the Golden State Warriors earlier this week.

I wasn't completely ignorant of the goings on of this last season, and did find myself some impressed with their regular season record.  It will make next season particularly interesting, to see if Durant's addition to the roster can make them an even better team.  There were folks on ye olde Facebooke wondering if the Warriors could run the table next season.  Win all 82.

It's unlikely as all hell, but the fact that it even pops up into consideration makes you wonder:  is this free agent signing the best for Basketball?

I've seen it written that four of the starters for the Warriors could easily lead a Western Conference All-Star team.  That this may be the best tandem of players ever put together, on paper, on one team, by a large margin.

I don't really have a dog in that hunt--I haven't watched the NBA regularly in at least 15 years, and probably closer to 20.  I watched all of two minutes the past season, that being the final two minutes of the Warriors/Cavaliers Finals Game 7.  I wouldn't know who to compare if I were in a conversation and would probably just smile and say Manute Bol a lot.

That just puts me in a good mood.  Say that out loud.  Wherever you are.

Manute Bol.

Elongate the U in the first name.

Manuuuuuuuuuuute Bol!!!!!!!!


What I'm getting at here is that, on paper, I couldn't argue that such a move would be best for the competitive balance of the league.  If you were an owner of a Western Conference team, I wouldn't begrudge you much at all for hollering.  I mean, sure, everybody likes that Underdog story, but when your team is on the wrong side of that signing, do you like your chances to win the Conference next year?

But let me ask you something.

What if we then gave the Warriors a handicap?

Here's what I propose:

I am offering myself up to the Golden State Warriors, to sign as a Free Agent for the 2016-17 season.

I am 39, and will turn 40 during the next season.

I couldn't tell you the last time I touched a basketball.

I'm 6'3" and heavyset.  I've got a shoulder that hurts when it gets cold outside.  I'm not sure I could run up and down a court more than twice before collapsing into a pile of sweaty laundry.  I hit myself in the nuts with cardboard boxes at work at least 3 times a year.

Mr. Commissioner.  Make the Golden State Warriors sign me.  Make them start me.  Make them play me at least 16 minutes a game.  I'll be the anchor of that team.  In a bad way.

Think of the attraction.  Four of the Greatest Players in the League, and Tommy Acuff!  Can Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson overcome perhaps the biggest lead weight ever put around the necks of an NBA squad?

I'm offering my services, most humbly.  I would play for the absolute minimum salary allowed (which would still be quite the substantial raise, let me tell you!).

I'll send you my resume.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

2016 Reading List

Just a listing of what I've been reading and/or listening to in the first half of this year:


Welcome to Night Vale    by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
Isaac's Storm    by Erik Larson

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams     by Stephen King

Faithful Place     by Tana French


McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories   edited by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay    by Michael Chabon


Patient Zero       by Jonathan Maberry

The Proud Tower      by Barbara Tuchman

The Sirens of Titan      by Kurt Vonnegut


The Cartel       by Don Winslow

The Dark Tower:  The Gunslinger      by Stephen King

Lovecraft Country       by Matt Ruff

The Serpent King     by Jeff Zentner


The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor

The Dark Tower:  The Drawing of the Three      by Stephen King

The Bully Pulpit           Doris Kearns Goodwin

A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever
          by Josh Karp

Geek Love        by Katherine Dunn


City of Mirrors        by Justin Cronin

True Grit        by Clinton Portis

Mayflower      by Nathaniel Philbrick

the Sex Lives of Cannibals     by J. Maarten Troost

The Union of the State      by Corey Stulce


A couple of notes:

I made an attempt at David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest during February and March.  I made it a little less than halfway through before losing steam, and getting distracted by "real life."    2016 has been a rough year for working.  I joke about working like a botard sometimes.  We've been shorthanded for one reason or another it seems like this whole year.  Winter and Spring of this early year made reading more difficult than an Entertainment Weekly article daunting.  it was disappointing, because that part of the year was generally the easy part of the year, at least in terms of free time.  I'll give Jest another try, perhaps next year.

I also started, but didn't finish Joe Lansdale's Paradise Sky.  I may try again down the road.