Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Reads of 2017

Big changes and whatnot.  No internet, yet, at the new Casa de Big Stupid Tommy.  Comcast, that beautiful multi-billion dollar media conglomerate, can't find it in its capacity to move a transmission line up two telephone poles.  So, we're in the process of finding an alternative.  We've gotten a digital TV antenna, so we've got Jeopardy (important) and all the Andy Griffith and Mama's Family re-runs on MeTV (even more important) that you could ask for.

There's been lots of reading.  Up to mid-May, when the move was commenced, I was averaging three or four books a month.  A bit low, for me, early in the year, but it's been a tough year.  "Real life" and all that.

Still, here's  a quick listing of what I read or listened to during the first half of 2017:


Shardik          Richard Adams
Post Office           Charles Bukowski
TV: the Book        Alan Sepinwall & Matt Zoller Seitz


TheYard            Alex Grecian
The Lost Sun          Tessa Gratton
The Immortal Irishman       Timothy Egan
Norse Mythology            Neil Gaiman
Gather Her Round          Alex Bledsoe


The Yiddish Policemen's Union            Michael Chabon
Fever Dream              Samanta Schweblin
The Dragon Factory           Jonathan Maberry
Carrie                   Stephen King
Masters of Atlantis             Charles Portis


Rusty Puppy              Joe R. Lansdale
The Cubs Way             Tom Verducci
The BFG                      Roald Dahl
Moby Dick                 Herman Melville


The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini             Reggie Oliver
Station Eleven                 Emily St. John Mandel
Stay Crazy                    Erika Satifka
Anansi Boys                Neil Gaiman


Bird Box            Josh Malerman
Ghost Road Blues                Jonathan Maberry
Brimstone                Cherie Priest
All Quiet on the Western Front              Erich Maria Remarque
Hillbilly Elegy                  J.D. Vance
Gwendy's Button Box            Stephen King & Richard Chizmar
Double Wonderful             John Swartzwelder
Bunker Hill                Nathaniel Philbrick

Currently, I'm in the process of finishing Robert Conquest's The Great Terror, which I've muddled through.  It's actually the first book in a while I've had to set aside because it was affecting my state of mind. Nightmares, to be sure.  I can't leave it be, though.  Fascinating stuff, that look at the horrors of Stalin.  It gave me nightmares.  I should finish it in the next week.

I'm also listening to Salem's Lot, as my work commute.  After re-reading Carrie, I got it in my head to work back through King's work.  It's a minor project that should last me the next decade.

Sunday, June 04, 2017


Moving sucks.

Working with a skeleton crew at work sucks. (Come to work, America).

Other than that, life is good.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Random Thoughts

Busy couple of weeks.

There was Predators playoff hockey.  Tickets were bought early in the morning (like, 4:45ish) after the Predators swept the Blackhawks.  I'd never been to an NHL playoff game.  The energy was amazing.  The Predators won 2-1, and would go on to win the series last weekend to hit their first Western Conference Final.  They won game 1 against Anaheim last night, which was a nice way to start vacation.

Vacation week.  Finishing the move, which has become a much longer process than either of us might have thought.  We wanted to get this done in March.  Dad's passing put a hitch in that.  Then, her busy season started a week or three earlier than it usually does, thanks to unusually warm temperatures.  We were busier than anticipated (and a little more shorthanded) at work.  My landlord has been cool about this.

We'll finish up with the heavy stuff this week.  My smaller stuff is already over at Shyam's place.

Part of the moving has involved these guys:

They're old Pepsi standees we used at Halloween several years back.  I liked them, and kept them.  Used them a couple years to decorate, but for the most part they stayed folded up at the back of my bedroom closet.  I'm giving them to a buddy later this week, but I've left them set up in my living room.  No less than three times have I come into the house and nearly had a heart attack because of these goofballs standing there.

We wandered out to Guardians of the Galaxy, volume 2 this week.  It's only the second movie I've gone to see since Dad passed.  And it's the second (Logan, being the first) that involved a lot of father stuff.  There were a few tears on my part.  That's just me.  I'm a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general.  Big mark, me.  So I can forgive a lot.  But I liked this one on a lot of levels, the same as the original Guardians.  Largely because it isn't as beholden to the continuity of the other works, and it just does its own thing....

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Movie Meme Thing

Brain's fried.  Long couple of days.  Just a movie meme that's been passed around ye olde Facebooke:

Movie I Think Is Underrated: STRANGER THAN FICTION
Movie I Think Is Overrated: GLADIATOR
Favorite Action Movie:  PREDATOR (lately, leastways)
Favorite Drama: 12 ANGRY MEN
Favorite Horror:  ALIEN
Favorite Disney Movie: ROBIN HOOD
Favorite Fantasy Movie: THE DARK CRYSTAL
Favorite Science Fiction Movie:  THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
Favorite Animated Movie: THE IRON GIANT
Favorite Superhero Movie:  THE INCREDIBLES
Favorite Musical:  ANNIE
Favorite Bad Movie: NO HOLDS BARRED
Childhood Favorite: THE GOONIES
Favorite Franchise:  STAR WARS
Best Trilogy:   The Cornetto Trilogy
Guilty Pleasure: THE POSTMAN
Favorite Director: The Coens
Favorite Actor:  That's tough.  Woody Harrelson?  John Goodman?
Favorite Actress:   Holly Hunter?  Catherine O'Hara?
Favorite Movie This Year So Far: Lego Batman
Movie I Have Recently Seen:  Carrie (2013)
What I Thought of It: Not bad.  Uneven, but big props to Chloe Grace Moretz for hitting a lot of the right notes in that one.
Favorite Movie Of All Time: STAR WARS

Monday, April 24, 2017

Three Years

"Are you kidding? You've obviously not read my book I Make More Data Driven Decisions in Professional Learning Communities before Lunch than Most People Make in One Semester. Which is not surprising. It was hideously researched, grossly inaccurate and ineptly marketed. Still, it sold 7 copies in my Amazon Kindle Store, so feel free to use me as a source." ---me, in a FB conversation three years ago.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter By the Numbers

Tired, Big Stupid Tommymaniacs.


Pretty weekend.

3 9+ hour shifts in 49 hours.

44,300 steps taken in 49 hours.  According to my app, that's about 23 miles.

Went to Welcome to Night Vale at the Bijou in Knoxville.  If you get the time, I recommend it....

I opened this morning.  We had Easter at Mom's.  Was tough, without Dad there.  Had an emotional moment this morning, when I started thinking about it.

 Friday morning, the Easter Bunny visited Mom's house.  He knew that April was coming up with my nephew after church on Sunday.  He created a scavenger hunt, of sorts, in amongst the other Easter Eggs.

The Easter Bunny was proud of himself....the hunt was a hit, apparently....

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Going Down to the Hardee's for some Pussy

I found this in my drafts.  I'm tired as anything.  I don't get it, either.  Good night, folks.

Harlan County, Kentucky, couple arrested for sex in public in Hardee's parking lot.

"I guess that gives new meaning to the saying 'I'm going down to the Hardee's for some Pussy,'" he said, the leer evident without my even needing to turn to look at him to see it.  I could feel it.  Its greasy essence nearly prompting me to turn on the defrost.

"That's not a saying," I said, regretting evening dignifying his statement with comment before I got past the second T.

"It's a saying."

"No it's not."

"It's a local thing."

"We're from the same town, Ricky."

"Yeah, I've been around longer, though" he said.  He puffed out his chest.

"I don't care how old you are.  Nobody says that."

"Yeah they do."

"Who says that, Ricky?  Who the fuck says 'I'm going down to the Hardee's for some Pussy?'"

"Lots of people.  It was our class motto when we graduated."

"You didn't graduate."

"Got my equivalency."

"Your class motto was not 'I'm going down to the Hardee's for Pussy."

"Some Pussy," he said, putting respectful emphasis on the words.

"That wasn't your class motto."

"Yes it was," he said, rummaging around in his pocket.

"No it wasn't."

We stopped at the light going up Depot Hill.  The light was green, but a bus from First Baptist was turning left.  We waited, so that the senior spares and pairs could make it to Classic Lanes for their 9 AM league.

"Why isn't there a turn lane?" Ricky said, and then "Look."

"I am looking."

"No," he said, holding his phone out to me, "look!"

I looked at what he was holding out.  He'd pulled up a picture on his phone.  It was Ricky Scott minus 30 years of drive-thru, male pattern baldness and Busch Light.  His silver tuxedo brought out the strawberry in hair that still more strawberry than sand.  He stood regally, green eyes bursting from his freckled skull at his good fortune.

"Who's your girl?" I asked.  She was actually quite pretty.  I was impressed at 1986 Ricky Scott's good fortune.

"Fuck the girl," he said, "look at the backdrop."

I did, or at least I tried, but before I could take in the orange lettering on a red backdrop, a horn tooted behind me.

"Shit," I said, realizing the church bus had turned and I was impeding rush hour.  I dropped his phone into the seat between us.

"Did you read it?"

"Read what?"

"What's on the backdrop?"

"No," I said.  "I'm lead car in a 3-car parade."

"The back drop says "Going down to the Hardee's for some Pussy."

"No it does not."

"It does," he said, trying to retrieve his phone, which had slipped into the crevasse made between the seats by his belt buckle.

"Yes, Mark, it does.  Shit."


"Can't reach my phone, asshole."

"It's not my fault."

"Yeah it is, Orel Hershiser" he said, continuing to dig while I pondered his choice of epithet.

"How did your class motto become 'Going down to the Hardee's for some Pussy?'" I was regretting my investment, but we had 20 miles before getting to Hannah's, and if I was lucky, I could distract Ricky before another Steve Miller classic came on the radio, and he needed me to turn it up so that I could have hearing and sanity obliterated by Jet Airplane.

"Well," he said, rooting still with his left hand.  He'd managed to push past his wrist, a quarter way up his left forearm rooting underneath my seat, before he continued:

"One day, when me and your Dad were in high school, we were getting ready for homecoming."

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Thoughts from the Ass End of the Night, chapter 315, verse 6

Insomnia night.

I think my work schedule is contributing to this one.

I have to close a couple or three nights a week.  Store closes at 11.  I'm there until 11:15 or 11:30, usually, depending on how long the accounting close takes.  I'll get home around midnight.  If I'm lucky, I'll be in bed by 12:30 or 1, but sometimes it goes until 2 or 3 if I'm wired.

I also have to open a couple days a week.  On those opening days, I have to get up at 5:15 AM.

My boss used to have a penchant for the Turn & Burn shift.  I never understood it, but I had to ask him to stop a couple times, since a turn & burn usually means 6 hours of sleep only if I'm lucky, and it generally means 4-5.  It's doable, but as I get older, it just means I'm done for the night after a Turn & Burn, usually.  Work 20 hours in a 28 hour period, and then come home and crash.

Now, the solution is to put a day off between night shifts and open shifts.  Which is the best I can come up with, but that day after 2 or 3 closing shifts, knowing that you have to get up at 5:15 the day following, it can feel like half a day off.   Usually, I make myself get up at 7 after the closing shift, and that usually does the trick.  I forgot to set my alarm for Wednesday, though.  So I slept until 8:45.

Went to bed at 10.  Wide awake at 2:45, after weird dreams about camping with my friend Julie.  In the dream, it was just after the Superflu from The Stand had hit.


It's a weird new world without Dad.  We keep struggling to find the new normal.  I still call and check on Mom a bit.  I'm going over to mow a bit Friday, and take trash to the dump.

Went with Mom last week to Nashville.  She got to testify in front of a Tennessee Senate Committee about a bill that would seek to change the language used by Tennessee Donor Services contacts the next of kin of a family regarding tissue donation.  We consented to donating Dad's tissue, but the decision was made in time of duress and without our complete knowledge of what they were looking to harvest.  Even a few minutes later, it hit us that they couldn't be harvesting organs, since the body had to be kept alive for organs to be viable.

What the folks are doing isn't wrong, or bad.  It just wasn't made completely clear to us at the time, and that's what Mom and the sponsors of the bill are looking to clear up some of the language, and let the family of the deceased know in clearest terms what is being harvested.

Here she is sitting down to testify.  It was an experience watching that whole thing go down.  The chaos in suitjackets of people in the legislative plaza.  

I felt like the committee didn't give Mom and Sonny (the gentleman with her) enough time to speak their case, and there's a small part of me that thinks it was intentional--we were told those bills with witnesses would go first, and they did not....this bill was the last presented, and were rushed for time because the Education Committee was scheduled to take the room.  Mom did get to speak her peace, though, and I was tremendously proud of her.


It's been more than a month, now.  I've dreamed of Dad once.  I kinda expected to dream more of him.  I'm kinda sad about that, but then the one dream I did have him left me wrecked.

Part of me wants to believe that dreaming of somebody you lost is part of their coming to say goodbye.  Even pets.  I was told that when I was little, and it's something that I've held on to.

Part of me believes that.  Maybe a large part.

It might be silly, but I'm allowed to believe silly things, even if the other part of me believes it's just random firings in the brain during REM sleep.

I'd like to be able to talk to him.  One more time.  Hear him say "Hey, Bud."  Even if it were a dream.


Shyam and I did go to see Logan a couple weeks ago, and it was as good as advertised.  I've never been the big Wolverine fan that a lot of people are, despite years of X-Men fandom.  I've thought character overwrought and not nearly as interesting as people want to believe.  I thought he was most well done in those Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne years of Uncanny X-Men.


Still, the movie was quite good.  It had been spoiled for me, so his sacrifice at the end of the flick didn't hit me as hard as I was afraid it would.  I was more impacted by a scene near the middle of the flick.  Logan is carrying Charles up the stairs of the home they're staying in.  The charade they've taken is that Charles is Logan's father, an aspect of their relationship that gets touched on from time to time.  For some reason, when Logan was carrying Charles up the stairs, I started cryiing.

I haven't been to a movie by myself, yet.  He was my movie buddy, and we'd hit a couple a month.  Sometimes more in the summer.  It might be hard to go, for a little while.

I still haven't gone to see Kong: Skull Island.


Trying to make my work schedule comply with my desire to hit Marble City Comiccon up in Knoxville.  I don't think it's going to work.  We've got a floor strip, and the con won't open until 10.  I'm scheduled to go in at 12 that day.  Which sucks.

It's a small con, but usually has a good vendor selection.  Sorry I'm going to miss it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Some Days

There are some days I come home so tired.  That first week or two, it was every day.  It's still most days.  It is today, for sure.  It's normal, I understand.  That doesn't make it easier.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Music Challenge, Day 2

Almost forgot.

Day 2:  Name a Song you like with a Number in the Title.

There were a couple that popped up, but the one that gets stuck in my head:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Music Challenge, Day 1

I've seen this floating around on the Twitter, and I suppose I'll play along until I forget, or get bored:

Day One:  Name a song you like with a color in the title.

Today, I choose "Apocalyptic Modified Blues" by Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans:

I'd wandered across Corb Lund a time or two, but it was the inclusion of "(Gonna) Shine up My Boots" in the movie Slither that made me actually seek the guy out.  I like the way he makes lyrics fit together, and he throws a curveball from time to time....Apocalyptic Modified Blues being one of those enjoyable ones.....

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Notes from the Ether

I dreamed of Dad last night.  That after his heart surgery a couple of years ago that there was actually a clone dad that had been living in his place, and that was the one that was sent back after the surgery was the one that died a few weeks ago.

Thanks, Brain.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Favorite Movie, year by year

It's one of those things going around Ye Olde Facebooke....what's your favorite movie for each year of your life.

I'll have to Google a bit, but:

1977:  Star Wars
1978:  Animal House
1979:  Alien
1980:  Empire Strikes Back
1981:  Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982:  Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan
1983:  A Christmas Story
1984:  Ghostbusters  (just edging out This is Spinal Tap)
1985:  The Goonies
1986:  Stand By Me   (just edging out Aliens and Big Trouble in Little China)
1987:  Planes, Trains and Automobiles
1988:  Beetlejuice
1989:  Parenthood    (just edging out Tim Burton's Batman)
1990:  Miller's Crossing
1991:  Terminator 2: Judgment Day
1992:  A League of Their Own
1993:  Jurassic Park
1994:  The Shawshank Redemption
1995:  Apollo 13
1996:  Fargo
1997:  Contact
1998:  The Big Lebowski
1999:  The Iron Giant
2000:  Unbreakable   (just edging out O Brother Where Art Thou?)
2001:  Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
2002:  The Ring
2003:  The Last Samurai
2004:   Shaun of the Dead
2005:  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
2006:  Pan's Labyrinth   (just beating out The Departed)
2007:  No Country for Old Men
2008:   The Dark Knight (but man, Iron Man and Cloverfield I like SO much)
2009:  Moon (I say this.  Lot of good in 2009, but nothing just JUMPED at me)
2010:  True Grit
2011:  The Raid: Redemption
2012:  The Avengers (but I love Cloud Atlas so much)
2013:  Gravity
2014:  Guardians of the Galaxy  (but Ex Machina is SO Good)
2015:  Mad Max: Fury Road
2016:  The Nice Guys

I can probably go back and look at this list tomorrow, and realize mistakes.....

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Apologies if the blogamathing has become Big Stupid Tommy Missed His Dad, but that's what it is.  

I miss him.

I've been working like mad.  Went back the Friday after the funeral.  Mostly to keep my hands busy.  We had a minor snow rush over the weekend (lousy Smarch Weather).   It was annoying in that way that all Southern overreactions to the threat of winter weather are, but it also helped a little to get moving and put my mind somewhere else for a while.

Little things hit me.  I went to Target this afternoon, and I saw the Blu-Ray of the Daredevil Netflix series.  I'd kinda chalked that one up as a Father's Day present for Dad.  Mom and Dad's house is too far out in the woods to stream too much (although with Verizon's shift to unlimited Data, that could change though that point's moot for Dad, I reckon).  Anyway, I saw the Blu Ray and I got the shivers, a bit.

The NCAA Tournament starts up soon.  We always watched that together.  It's going to be hard without him.

This morning at work, as I started checking the grocery order, I had to stop and take a few breaths.  I don't even know what set it off, but that feeling of missing the old man just hit like a hammer.

I call Mom a lot more.  Just checking in.  Seeing if she needs anything.  We've got another cold snap coming through tonight.  A hard freeze.  Just wanted to make sure she had enough firewood.

It's tough.  I miss the old guy.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Shuffling through....

Each day is a little different.  Each day I'm dealing with a different thing.

Today, I got really upset when a red truck the same make and model as my Dad's parked next to me at Lowe's.

The Memorial Service was yesterday.  It was a good one.  Got to see a lot of people that I hadn't seen in years.  Was surprised by the number of folks in my life who showed up.  It was overwhelming, to be honest.

Here's a picture from the receiving of friends:

We'd requested in lieu of flowers that a donation be made in his name to either E.G. Fisher Public Library here in Athens, or to the McMinn Regional Human Society.  Still, my work and my sister's work sent really nice arrangments.  Mom took them out to the graves of family members who'd died locally today.

Lastly, I posted this on Facebook, after the service, and after the dinner that the nice folks at Allen Memorial gave our extended family.  I wanted to post it here, because I leaned on a lot of you, too:

"Thank you. To all of you. This has been, hands down, one of the toughest weeks my family and I have ever gone through. The outpouring of support, though, has been nothing short of overwhelming. Thanks to those who were able to stop by this afternoon. Thanks to those who sent flowers, or food, or made donations to the Humane Society or the Library. Thanks if you dropped a note. Thanks for the hugs. Thanks if you made me laugh. Thanks for your thoughts, your prayers, your time.
You're a good bunch of people. And I can never repay the kindness.
Dad was a good guy. And that's the most gratifying thing: To hear the same from everybody. From his family. From his fraternity brothers who showed up. From the people that he worked with, traveled with. From his friends. To hear that they thought so much of the guy, calling him solid, kind, the genuine article, was an honest pleasure, though not a surprise.
We'll miss him. And we step into a strange new world without him here to talk to, to laugh with. I take comfort in knowing that I have you folks to travel with us into this odd place.
Thank you. From the bottom of my heart."