Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentines!!!!

A Valentines Day Shout Out to the customer who came in last night about 30 minutes before closing time and bought heart-shaped box of candy, a mylar balloon with a monkey carrying a heart pictured on it, a card, a bag of chili cheese Fritos, and a tube of Astroglide.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Thoughts from the Ass End of the Night, Volume 5,971

Insomnia night.

I'm having, on average, one of these a week for the past several.  Usually when my schedule transitions from the closing shift to the opening shift.

What's going on in Big Stupid Tommy's neck of the woods?

Still working like a botard.  Always.

In the process of shutting down the current Casa de Big Stupid Tommy.  Shyam and I will be moving in some time in the next few weeks.  The logistics of combining households, and libraries in particular, is a new one.

Here's a picture that amuses me tonight:


Sunday, January 29, 2017

The World

Spent the last week on vacation.  Cleaning house.  Getting things ready for a move.  Shyam and I will be moving in together.  Consolidating households is daunting.  Consolidating libraries?  That's mindwrecking.

I've stayed off social media as much as I could.  Trying to wean myself from that Facebooke teat.  It's an addiction, and not a good one.

Lot of anger out there.  Lot of frustration, and a lot of fear.  I think I tend to soak that up.  What used to be a few minutes on Ye Olde Facebooke seeing what people are doing and thinking ends up making me tense.

Life is tense enough without everybody looking to be the smartest person in the room.

Life is tense enough without getting shouted down.

What bothers me is the people that I consider friends who are angry.

It's not all the time.  But since all I see of theirs is what they post online?  It paints them.

I try to keep it light.  Post what I'm reading.  Post an interesting article.

And I appreciate people who do the same.

But the anger is overwhelming.

So, if I should drop out of the Facebooking world unexpectedly, don't fret.  I'm still out here.  Probably here.....


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Silence

I took advantage of the afternoon off one day this past week to go see the flick Silence.

I've taken a while to digest it.  It's a beautiful flick.  Brutal, but beautiful.

My initial reaction was negative.

It's a little long.  I'll say that.  Scorsese has had a pacing problem for a while.  Bringing out the Dead and The Departed are aberrations in that regard, over his work for the past 25 years or so.

Also: I did not enjoy Andrew Garfield's performance.  At all.  I've tried with Garfield.  There's something in his performances that I can't get past.  I wish I could place a finger on it.  I just do not enjoy his work.

The movie's stuck with me, though.  I want to watch the movie again, though.

Alone.

Here's why:

I was the first in the theater.  I thought, for a second, that it'd be one of those glorious experiences where I had the theater to myself.  It wasn't to be, though.  A couple walked in a couple minutes later.  And a fourth person walked in minutes after that.

Then, the lights went down, and the trailers started (I'm really, really curious about A Cure for Wellness, by the way).  And during the trailers, a group walks in.  A group of maybe 20 folks.  All older.  A couple of them use walkers, and take seats near the entrance hall.

It quickly becomes apparent that the Jesuit priests have a cheering section.  The retirees down front.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver play priests sent to track down a mentor and missionary in Japan, who has been rumored to have abandoned his faith.

The priests are in hiding, as the persecution of Christians is the law of the land.

There are moments, though, when the priests find those of Faith in the land.  Much to the elation of the retirement set down front.  There are outbursts.

Yes!

Praise God!

And most often:  Amen.

There is one point in the movie, where Andrew Garfield's Rodrigues is in a tense exchange with Japanese authorities.  He makes an analogy about not being able to grow trees on poison ground, but is hesitant to use the word "poisoned."

There is a climactic pause, before he says the word.

At which point one among the set down front cries out "Say it!"

Here's the thing.  The movie isn't a rah! rah! rah! flick.  At least, I didn't take it as such.  These outbursts are annoying, to the point of distraction.

Apparently for one of the folks who came in just after me, as he gets up, and goes to the gentleman who cried out.  I can't hear the exchange--they're six or seven rows up.  I can see gestures.  I do hear the older gentleman's reply "I am watching the movie."

But, the talk was effective.  There are fewer outbursts.  A couple of Amens.  A hallelujah.

The movie ends.  The 32 ounce bottle of water I'd rented needed to be deposited.  I wandered down the steps to note a couple members of the large group wiping tears away.

Like I said.  I want to watch the movie again.

So that the Silence won't be broken.....




Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Flagg

Man, it's hard to watch the end of the 1994 mini series adaptation of The Stand, with the Vegas crowd chewing on Flagg's every word, and not be reminded of Trump and the MAGA legion that follows him.

Additionally, there is part of me that wishes somebody like HBO, or AMC, or Netflix, or somebody, would pick up the Stand and run with it for several episodes with some 2017 money behind it.  I hate to say so, but it would actually make me buy a channel if they adapted it again.

Just don't turd it up like CBS did with Under the Dome.

Think more along the lines of 11.22.63 from Hulu.

Also, think less along the lines of The Man in the High Castle, which had an intriguing first season, but with which I've had a booger of a time even making it through the first episode of the second season.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Snuka

Here's a blurry picture of me with Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.

It was taken the Monday morning after Wrestlemania XXIII in Detroit.  We were in the airport getting ready to fly back to Nashville.  We passed Jimmy Snuka drinking a Jack and Coke in the airport bar.  I didn't want to bother him.  Because I know how much I hate being bothered if I'm drinking at an airport bar at 9 in the morning.  Still, he didn't seem to mind when I asked if we could get a picture.

He was pretty incoherent, but I did catch it when he said "Thanks brutha."


This was all before I knew he might have killed his girlfriend back in 1983.

He did an interview with Opie and Anthony a few years back, that I caught when I still had XM.  It was actually a troubling interview.  He seemed lucid, and candid.  And his story seemed like complete bullshit.

He was declared incompetent to stand trial.  The interview I heard was three or four years before that (I think...time's funny out here....).

He died yesterday.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Snow Thoughts

Tired is pretty much my default position.

We did 3 holidays in the space of 14 days.

Christmas.

New Year's Eve.

Snow Rush.

I actually got off the worst of the Snow Rush.  I expected to have to work.  I rushed Thursday to get all my chores down, so that I wouldn't be left hanging if I had to run Friday.  I actually got to stay in and watch season one of Shameless on Netflix.  Really digging that one, by the way.

I did have have to work the aftermath though.  You know, the part where you have to convince people that it's alright to drive on a road with an inch of snow.  It's always an interesting paradox, where your customers have no trouble getting in but it's much too difficult for the workers to drive in.....

Actually, I get it.  I'm from McMinn County.  If you're rural, on a hilly shaded road, you don't want to get out.  I'm heading out to visit my parents who live on such a road in a few minutes.  I lived on that road.  I get it.  I'm not giving you a hard time.

But, if you live in a city where they've treated the roads (to excess, if the solid salt shell on my car is any indication), you need to come to work.  It's an inch of snow.  Snow.  Not lava.  Not man-eating sharks.  Not ninja throwing stars.  It's snow.  Suck it up.  And try not to complain to the guy who drove 30 miles before dawn in it.

Grownups don't get snow days.

Sorry.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Books and whatnot

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

January

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

February

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

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay    by Michael Chabon

March

Patient Zero       by Jonathan Maberry

The Proud Tower      by Barbara Tuchman

The Sirens of Titan      by Kurt Vonnegut

April

The Cartel       by Don Winslow

The Dark Tower:  The Gunslinger      by Stephen King

Lovecraft Country       by Matt Ruff

The Serpent King     by Jeff Zentner

May

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

June

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

July

The Fireman     by Joe Hill

Broken Harbor      by Tana French

Disappearance at Devil's Rock      by Paul Tremblay

August 

A Man on the Moon:  Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts   by Andrew Chaikin

End of Watch      by Stephen King

The Hike      by Drew Magary

September

The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America--The Conflict of Civilizations
        by Bernard Bailyn

Chapel of Ease      by Alex Bledsoe

Underground Airlines     by Ben H. Winters

Southern Gods      by   John Hornor Jacobs

October

Based on a True Story           by Norm MacDonald

Family Plot      by Cherie Priest

November

Jerusalem       by Alan Moore

Savage Season      by Joe R. Lansdale

Cades Cove:  the Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community  1818-1937
             by Durwood Dunn

But What If We're Wrong:  Thinking about the present as if it were the past
             by Chuck Klosterman

December

Dark Matter:  A Ghost Story       by Michelle Paver

Moonglow: a Novel          by Michael Chabon

Secret Place             by Tana French

The Best Horror of the Year, volume 4        edited by Ellen Datlow

Dark Force Rising           by Timothy Zahn


Thoughts:

2016 was a difficult year.  There were professional issues (shorthanded for a large part of the year, changes in expectations for my schedule, and a disappointment when a potential window for promotion slammed shut in surprising fashion).  There were personal issues (Dad's hip replacement and issues surround it, largely).  Most of which boiled down to a real shortage in free time.  And when there was free time, a lot of the time had to be used doing something other than reading.

Add to that:  The early part of the year is painted by an aborted attempt at David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, which I started in late January and kept plugging with until late March before finally admitting that now wasn't the time for that one.

Favorite books?

Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country was amazing fun.  Interconnected stories of an African American family dealing with a powerful evil while wrestling with racism in 1950's America.  Perhaps one of the most satisfying endings I've run across in years.

Jeff Zentner's Serpent King writes the Southern Teen as well as anything I've run across.  I'd seen it pop up in my Goodreads feed, and I'm always looking for somebody who writes the South without trying to make it a character itself.  I bristled, at first, with this an what I was calling teenage melodrama.  I made myself remember, though, that I'm 39, and don't remember as well what 17 is like as I'd like to pretend.  I found it true to life, and oddly inspiring.

Alex Bledsoe continues to entertain and impress with the Tufa Series.  I like the way Alex's characters talk.  I also like the way Alex manages to maintain an air of mystery with the Tufa, four volumes in.  This one's a wry little mystery.  I dug it.

Drew Magary's The Hike might end up being my favorite book this year, if only because it kept me off balance for nearly its entirety.  Nothing but curveballs, and keeping no rhythm other than its own.  I gave this book as a gift to a couple folks this year.

Norm MacDonald's wondrous, ponderous Based on a True Story made me laugh more than any book I've read in recent memory.  Completely full of shit.  Worth every minute of it.  And whether you like it or not is of absolutely no consequence.

Cherie Priest's Family Plot is a beautiful ghost story.  Another writer with the knack for hitting this local nail right on the head, the characters in this Chattanooga based spooky story felt very close to home.

Alan Moore's Jerusalem was an amazing, beautiful love letter to his home town.  I was hesitant to go into this one, especially after giving up on an attempt at Infinite Jest.  The investment of time?  Would it be worth it?  Short answer:  Yep.  It's an occasional mindfuck.  A giant playpen for Moore.  I could spend my entire afterlife reading the adventures of Phyllis Painter and the Dead Dead Gang.....

Michelle Paver's Dark Matter came recommended from a couple places within a short amount of time.  That synchronicity had me order the book from England.  A novel that takes the form of a diary, I ended up reading nearly the whole thing one night when I couldn't sleep.  A young man takes an expedition to the Arctic, ends up alone in the ongoing winter night.  Just a fun read.

Michael Chabon's Moonglow brought back the same feeling I got when I read Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.  Hit the right chord for me, especially since my own grandparents were distant figures for me, and more than geographically.  I never really knew the people behind the title.  The story of Chabon getting into the hows and whys of his grandfather and grandmother was heartbreaking and amazing....

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

In which there will be no holidays

Tired.

It happens every holiday.

I work like a botard.

The holiday, if I get it off (and Christmas is the only one guaranteed), it's a break.

I slept 9 hours 15 minutes last night.  I feel practically human again.

I'm gonna wander off at the mouth, here.  Probably not worth reading.

I haven't had a weekend off since November 12.  Kinda hoped to have this one off, temporarily forgetting that New Years Eve is a holiday, too.

I'd hoped for the one after, but my boss decided to go on vacation next week.

I'd asked to see if I could get two days off in a row, outside of a weekend.  It's been scheduled for Thursday and Friday, but it rarely happens when the boss is on vacation.  Having two days off in general rarely happens when he's on vacation.

As an aside, that comes as a surprise to some people.  That I have to ask for two days off in a row.
But, I do.  Such is life in retail when you're open 7-days a week.

Also tired due to changing schedules.  I opened yesterday.  I close tonight.  I will be working tonight past the time that I went to bed last night.

It's not impossible.  Just tiring.

I'm tired, campers.  I spent last night and part of this morning making my apartment look like it wasn't a crazy person that lived here.  The Christmas rush came in here like a tornado.  I was behind on picking up, dishes, laundry.  Still mostly behind, but now it doesn't look like a candidate for a reality show in here.

I want to take a day to watch some movies.  To go to the movies, maybe.  To be with Shyam when we weren't both running like crazy.

Just venting.  Like I said.  I don't like holidays.  And time is why.  I'm exhausted...

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogue One

 This time of year is rough. From 2 pm Wednesday through 4 pm Sunday, I worked about 51 hours in that 98-hour period.  Add about 6 more hours for that total for the commute.  Add to that that I got it up my ass to go see hockey Saturday night, and I've been running for a while.

Still, I really, really wanted to go see Rogue One last night.  It made me very, very happy to once again have a movie theater in Athens.  The folks at Athens Movie Palace do good work anyway, but it's especially convenient to not have to drive a half hour before and after, during days where it's hard enough to block off two hours for a movie, and three becomes prohibitive.

Again, I got a bug up my ass, and I wanted to see Rogue One as soon as I could.....

In a word:  Satisfying.

Hits a tone that I think I was looking for through the whole prequel trilogy.  A messy, space-faring society.  Characters with heart and motivations that are easily explained and feasible.  A fucking sense of humor.  Quick pacing.  Fun.

I didn't get teary-eyed like I was afraid I might.  The trailer did that to me, way back when.  The one shot of the AT-AT walking up the beach made me feel like a kid again.  So, I guess I got that out of the way.  The shots inside the Massassi Temple of the X-Wing hangar made me cackle, as did the revelation of Red and Gold Leaders during the assault on the shield.

I did want to comment on Michael Giacchino's score, which walks an admirable line, acting as a bridge between John Williams' scores for the prequel and original trilogies, all while finding its own identity.  Impressive, and maybe my favorite part of the flick....

It was fun.  I'm probably going to see it again and soon.




Friday, December 09, 2016

Retail Holiday Bingo

You can mark "Yelled at about Almond Bark" down on the Retail Holiday Bingo board.

Oof.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Storms....

Tuesday night was an eventful one, in my part of the world.  Literally, this part of the world.  Like, a thousand feet away
I woke up to a weather alert around 1 AM.  I was annoyed, because these little wolf-cryers are pains in the ass, right?  I futzed around with the phone to quiet it down a bit, but it kept buzzing every few minutes with a new watch or warning announcement.

I got up and went into the kitchen to grab a drink of water.  I looked up into the sky from the kitchen window.  Lightning flared every few seconds.  It reminded me of my stressful drive home from the Tellico Village Food Lion the night of the April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak.  You could probably walk without aid of artificial light, as the glow in the sky never dissipated.  The memory of the drive, probably the scariest I've ever made, came back fresh.

I went back to the bedroom.  The rain began then.  It wasn't raining, to that point.

I sat on the edge of the bed, and activated the local news channel's radar.  There was a big patch of orange near me.  I noted that one of the warnings was for Southwest McMinn County, and heading for Athens.

It was then that I heard the wind pick up.  And I heard a constant rumble.  Yeah, kinda like a train travelling in the distance.  I headed toward the bathroom, grabbing a pair of sweatpants in the process.  It'd be unfortunate enough to be caught in a tornado, even moreso to have to ride out the storm without proper pants.  The bathroom of my apartment, which is an old house that's been converted into units, is probably the central most point of the building.  I'm not sure I'd have been safe there, but it's the best I had.

I hunkered down in the bathroom for a couple minutes, sending Shyam a text message in the process.  The power went out as I was writing.

I stayed there for a few more minutes, until I heard sirens.  I got up.  There were a lot of sirens.  A LOT.  Including a couple that ran by my apartment.  Downtown Athens still had power, I could see.  But I did not, nor my neighbors, nor anybody to the east, across the Oostanaula, the creek that runs right behind my building.

I went back in, and tried to sleep.  To no avail.  I got up again around 3, to look again outside.  There were blue lights flashing about 200 yards up my road.  And in a similar location on White Street, which runs parallel to the Oostanaula.  I started to wonder then if something had blown through there.

I didn't sleep for the rest of the night.

I have to be at work at 6 most Wednesdays, which means leaving around 5:25.  I left earlier, not knowing what road conditions look like.  I sent a message to those coming in to drive carefully.

On my drive in, my buddy Chris sent a message, and my sister called.  Another wave of storms was blowing in, complete with hail.  I was concentrating on the road.  I answered my sister's call, saying that I was driving, could I call her back?

It wasn't until I got to work that I realized how close the storm had come to me.

Behind my building is a parking area.  And if you stand in that parking area, the parking lot to the Save a Lot shopping center is somewhere between 200 and 300 yards away.

That Save a Lot was hit hard by the storm, as well as C&D Tire.  And the former Raceway gas station.  These businesses are between 600 and 1100 feet from the apartment, all.

I had no idea until I got to work.

The storm proceeded across the park and wandered up route 307, tearing up a lot of stuff there.

There was a lot of checking in.  People with me.  Me with people.  Everybody was safe.

I didn't have power until Thursday afternoon some time.

Scary stuff.

Here's WBIR's story on the storm....

Monday, November 28, 2016

Today's wry thing.

Good morning, America.

This is the world we live in.

That we've lived in for a while.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top Twenty?

I closed the store last night.  Day off today.  I fell asleep somewhere after 1.  I got woken up shortly after 8 with a text message notification.  Kinda figured it was work calling.  Instead, my sister asked: what are my top 5 favorite books.

You can't ignore an important question like that.  I answered after a few minutes thought.  But there were things I left out.

It's an exercise I've done before.  It's interesting to see what changes from year to year.  My Top 20 favorite books, at the moment.

Alphabetized by author or editor:


John Barth                    The Floating Opera
Jim Bouton                   Ball Four
Michael Chabon           The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Harlan Ellison              The Glass Teat
William Faulkner          Light in August
Neil Gaiman                 American Gods
Stephen King                Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
Stephen King                The Stand
Joe R. Lansdale            The Bottoms
Harper Lee                    To Kill a Mockingbird
Cormac McCarthy        The Road
David Mitchell             Cloud Atlas
Christopher Moore       The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
Flannery O'Connor       Collected Stories
Charles Portis               True Grit
Tom Robbins                Still Life with Woodpecker
Carl Sagan                    The Demon Haunted World
Ferrol Sams                  Run with the Horsemen
John Kennedy Toole     Confederacy of Dunces
Mark Twain                  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Big One-Four

I've been doing this blogging thing for fourteen years.  FOURTEEN.

I work with people who are only slightly older.

It was fourteen years ago that a buddy gave me an address of a blog that was interesting at the time but has since become a repository for some really, really ugly, repugnant shit so I won't share its address here.  But, it was through that that I started this blogamathing.

Fourteen years.  Where do the times go?

Sheila and I were discussing a month or so ago, when her blog passed the milestone, that our blogs would be in the same grade.  There's probably going to be some kind of chaperoned date thing.  Which is good.  My blog needs a good influence.  Something to get its mind off fart jokes and pro wrestling.

Was surprised with a three-day weekend, coincidentally.  This is the busy time of year, with Thanksgiving coming, and I was preparing myself to not have a weekend until 2017 when this one popped up on the schedule.  Then, another manager needed to switch days, so I ended up with Friday off, as well.

Wandered out to my first Knoxville Ice Bears game of the season.  My nephew went:


The Ice Bears lost to the Macon Mayhem after a chippy game.  Of note: seeing former Ice Bears enforcer Dennis Sicard, now playing for the Mayhem, tie it up with his former teammate Brad Pawlowski, and having the two come out of the tangle laughing....

Wandered out last night to see The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band at Barley's.  I've only gotten to see them play a 20-minute set at the old Scenic City Roots show in Chattanooga.  Was good to get them for a full set.  We sat off to the side, but I ended up liking those seats as much as any.  Got to see Jill and Chris for the first time in ages.  Being a grownup is hard....


Also saw Jesse Dayton play.  They were a lot of fun.  I recommend:


And today, we play in Chattanooga's City Trivia Final.  There may be money.  There will also be Pimento Cheese Fritters......

Anyway.

I don't write here as much as I used to, but sometimes I scratch the itch.  I appreciate those of you who continue to stop by, from time to time.  I appreciate the friendships I've made as a result of this blog.  Thanks for reading, guys....