Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Au revoir, Columbus

Tonight is my last night in Columbus. And tomorrow, June 2, is my final day as a full-time employee of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, although my column will continue to run in the Sunday Ledger-Enquirer on a freelance basis.

Starting D-Day, Monday, June 6, I will be the new Director of Communications for The Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga. It's the organization Millard Fuller founded after he was squeezed out by the corporate culture that began to infiltrate Habitat for Humanity, the charitable organization he and wife Linda founded in the 1970s. The Fuller Center is sort of a Habitat Orthodox, if you will. It's focus is putting roofs over people's heads. It doesn't drown itself in rules, dogma or corporate pettiness. It's focus is on the simplicity of the mission itself. My job will be to help spread the word about what we do. The mission sells itself, especially once you see the work in action and the difference it makes.

I'm proud of the 14-plus years I've spent at the Ledger-Enquirer and the nearly 22 years I've spent in the newspaper business. Every day since 1989, I have been employed by one of four different newspapers, The Americus Times-Recorder, the Citizen and Georgian of Montezuma, the Valdosta Daily Times and the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. I feel extremely fortunate to have fallen in love with the cities of Americus, Valdosta and Columbus along the way.

I feel even more fortunate to be returning to Americus. I've always said tongue-in-cheek that Americus has more crazy people per capita than any city in the nation. I mean that in an endearing way. Folks are delightfully crazy in Americus. Sumter County also has character out the wazoo! From the Windsor to Monroe's Hot Dogs to Koinonia to Jimmy Carter and Plain to Pat's Place to Andersonville to Lake Blackshear to my buddy Paul's amazing restaurant, the Station ... well, there's just no place like it. If it were oceanside, it just might be perfect. Oh well, the ocean's not that far away.

Granted, there's much I'll miss about Columbus. The Riverwalk. Catching rising musical acts downtown. A few good friends. Journalists who strive to do great jobs despite the vitriolic negativity that seems to permeate this town and perhaps society itself. Though I'm hoping that's more a product of being in a business that seems to shed light on and bring out the worst in people.

At age 40, and less than three weeks from 41, it's time for a change. I'm looking forward to a new phase in my life. Looking forward to being closer to family and old friends. Looking forward to spending much more time with my son. Looking forward to seeing stars in the sky over the cabin in Englishville. Looking forward to the occasional Troyburger, though not too many. Looking forward to a new career. Looking forward to finally finishing that novel. And looking forward to embarking upon a new life with my beautiful sweetheart of a girlfriend.

So, I take my leave of this town thankful for the good times and the bad, and thankful for the many lessons I've learned. And I enter phase 2 of my life with hope, optimism and little restored idealism.

The future looks bright indeed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


A 13-year-old boy in Ohio has come up with a brilliant venture, Man-Cans. The kid sells man-scented candles ... such scents as freshly mowed grass, sawdust, fresh leather baseball mitt, and, OF COURSE, bacon. Why didn't I think of this? Well, actually, I had. I just don't know how to add scent to wax. When the kid makes a Troyburger-scented candle, he'll be getting some cash from me. Hmm, I think I just got a whiff of an idea for Sunday's column.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oh great ... the late night talk shows should have fun with this

Apparently the "birther" folks are STILL at it. Unfortunately and embarrassingly, now in my home state. A bill in the General Assembly would make people prove their citizenship in order to appear on the ballot. Obviously, this is targeted at President Obama, whose birth certificate has been revealed, again, verified by the Republican governor of Hawaii AND his birth announcement was printed in both Hawaiian newspapers. In other words, he was obviously born in Africa.

Well, that what this blazing moron in the General Assembly believes. Along with apparently 93 other idiots at the State Capitol. If the bill passes, Gov. Deal, who has dabbled in a little birther movement dealings when not swinging unethical business deals, will no doubt sign it. So make that 94 other idiots at the Capitol. And counting.

Somehow, I just can't see both Honolulu papers printing Obama's birth announcement the week he was born as some big cover-up for a kid born in Africa just in case he someday decided to run for president in the United States. Doesn't pass the common sense test. Not that common sense is necessarily a requirement to serve in Georgia's General Assembly.

If you want to oppose Obama on bailouts, stimulus plans, gays in the military, illegal immigration or whatever else, fine. But drop the silly birther mess. You're embarrassing yourself, and, more importantly, you're embarrassing me as a Georgian.

Please go easy on us, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Dave Letterman, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. We know not what we do.

Here are the birth announcements, confirmed by the Star-Bulletin and Advertiser in Honolulu, followed by his official birth certificates.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lil' Top Gun

My 11-year-old son Saylor went flying with the local Young Eagles program that comes to the Columbus Metropolitan Airport the last Saturday of every month. Kids ages 8-17 can go on a free flight, although with much publicity, they may have to recruit more pilots. Saylor was lucky enough to go up with John, who had an experimental two-seater, so Saylor was automatically the co-pilot. And he was pretty thrilled with getting to see his native Columbus from the sky. And, oh by the way, the experience was free. Amazing how many similar gems there are in this area for kids to experience. All you've got to do is look.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Ever had a Monroe's hot dog? If you're within 50 miles of Americus, Ga., the answer to that question is most likely yes. Two things you must eat from Americus at some point in your life are Monroe's hot dogs and Pat's pizza. Going to Americus without stopping at Monroe's is like going to Montezuma without getting a Troyburger from Troy's Snack Shack. What's the point?

Thought I'd snap this shot of my lunch (two chili-cheese dogs and cheese fries) Friday afternoon. I hadn't eaten much in the previous day and a half after going to a visitation and a funeral for my aunt. So, I decided to make up for lost meals with a month's worth of calories, fat and cholesterol.

By the way, if you show this picture to my doctor, I'll have to kill you. Assuming, of course, that this meal doesn't kill me first.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Best jazz online

I'm kinda the guy real jazz buffs hate. I like smooth jazz, and I'm not really looking for music that "challenges" me. I just want music I enjoy. But out of Washington state plays a little bit of everything jazz, including many classics with very little repetition like you'll find on Pandora, which I also enjoy.

And, right now, Jazz 24 has unveiled the 100 greatest jazz songs as voted on by their listeners. Even better, they now have a constant stream of the 100 greatest jazz songs. When you need some great jazz in a pinch, it's a handy link.
I was listening to it at work today because most jazz does not have vocals to distract me. It also helps me chill out in a high-stress, always-on-deadline environment. And people have learned over the years at work that if CJ is wearing his headphones, your question better be important.

Ah, the many benefits of jazz.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Why don't you mind your own business?

Georgia now boasts the oldest living person in the world, Besse Cooper of Monroe. She became the oldest living person when (1) Texan Eunice Sanborn died at the age of 114 years, 195 days and (2) Larry King was found out to be an android and disqualified.

Ms. Cooper was born Aug. 26, 1896, and credits her longevity to avoiding junk food and "minding her own business" -- according to this article on Wikipedia.

So, that's certainly an incentive for those of you who feel determined to mind everybody else's business. Stop it, and you might live to be the world's oldest person. Of course, when you're the oldest person in the world, I think you've earned the right to start minding everybody else's business.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunday booze

A bill is now moving through the Georgia Assembly that would allow communities to vote on whether they want to allow Sunday alcohol sales in convenience and grocery stores. In the past, former Gov. Sonny Perdue, who doesn't drink, vowed to veto it to appease religious groups.

But new Gov. Nathan Deal, whom you can just look at and know he drinks some hard stuff from time to time, says he'll sign it into law if it hits his desk, immediately setting up a showdown between the governor and the right-wingers who put him into office. The religious folks vow to fight it.

This should be fun to watch ... especially over a cold beer.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Bulldog among many Tigers

For the second time in my life, I set foot in Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium yesterday. No, it wasn't some sort of weird ritual where they sacrifice some Georgia Bulldog fan for good luck.

I went because my son is an Auburn fan. I think it started as just his way of aggravating his daddy, but this whole War Eagle thing has sunk in with him over the years like some chronic disease for which I've found no cure.

Saturday was the national championship celebration for the football team. It was fun to witness, but more fun to watch the expressions on Saylor's face as he entered a big SEC football stadium for the first time and saw all the blue and orange and heard all the music, chants and cheering. I'm sure this War Eagle thing may definitely be incurable now.

Of course, Auburn is only about 35 minutes from Columbus, and that's why the Ledger-Enquirer has a beat writer covering the Tigers. And, of course, we got the expected whining from grouchy Bama and Georgia fans over the extensive coverage of the national champions this year. Always amazes me how many folks get out of sorts when sports or something they don't like hits the front page ... as if every front page must be catered just to them and not to the community in general. And if you don't put sports on the front page, someone will complain about that, too. Fact is, some folks just live to complain.

I don't care about "American Idol," Oscar fashions or British royalty, and while I may poke good-natured fun at those who do, it's not my place to scream at the paper or any other media outlet for covering such things. It's not Chris' World. It's mind-boggling how many people get upset that some people like something they don't.

"The nerve of people having an interest I don't share!"

As an example, check out the hater-of-all-sports' Facebook comments about the Ledger-Enquirer's coverage of the celebration below. Sports are so unimportant to her that she dedicated much of her day yesterday to discussing just that.

If you want to complain about something, find something better, such as how Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley actually used the term "play ball!" to kick off his football speech. It was the only thing that silenced the crowd all day. You can read about that here.
And, here are the crazy comments about the celebration ...

Rachel Thorne Absolutely not. What exactly did that stupid football game accomplish for mankind? I am sick to death of hearing about Auburn Auburn Auburn.....geez....get over it already. It's a stupid FOOTBALL game - you'd think that team had invented the cure for cancer they way ppl are carrying on about them. Next year another team will win & their town will act like they were the first men on the moon. Ugh........
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading...

Lisa Mclendon Yes i did will post pics as soon as i go thru my phone....gave big hi5 to Cam.....Kody and Nick.awesome.Was on the guardrail when they walked out. saw them all............a good day for a tiger fan.
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Rachel Thorne Just watch: every reference to Jesus Christ will soon be replaced with Cam Newton's name in every Bible in the Auburn area. WOW - a guy can run really fast & catch a ball a little better than the other large, sweaty, inarticulate guys on the team. I'm very impressed. lol
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Lisa Mclendon There are large,sweaty, inarticulate guys on all college and nfl teams, but there a very few that God allows to excel and be winners.Remember faith will take you far.....not being a hater.
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Rachel Thorne I don't care about ANY sports team from any city anywhere. It's just silly...just a game. Doens't make one bit of difference in the scheme of life. I'm not a hater, really! I'm just unimpressed. Brain surgeons, firefighters, diplomats, astronauts, soldiers, etc, impress me: ppl who actually make a real difference in the world. Oh well.
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Lisa Mclendon yep I agree Gerald....War Cam Eagle.
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike

15 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Rachel Thorne Haha! I make these comments b/c it makes ppl so's hilarious and so much fun to see ppl get so upset about a stupid football team! Hahaha!!!! This is really amusing to me. Good for Cam Newton. He can throw a ball/run really fast. Yay! I have 2 very difficult jobs that actually affect real ppl, but no one puts me on TV or screams in adoration. Hahaha!!!!
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Rachel Thorne If ppl were as insanely passionate about the direction of this country as they are about their precious "War Eagle" (whatever that means) or "Roll Tide," we might could make a little progress in the world. I'm not holding my breath, however. ;-)
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Kim Netteler and what exactly are you doing to make a difference in the world.sitting here making rude comments about someones favorite team and it's members are not makin a difference in the world our really what is your piont in bringing people down and taking away from thier moment of enjoymont.
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Kim Netteler so i ask again what have you done to make a difference?
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Bobo Bilbo I think Cam Newtons are the best cookies ever. I love the chewy center
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Rachel Thorne
I make these comments b/c fooball (and all sports) are silly and serve no purpose in the world whatsoever. Ppl spoil my fun all the time - I take it in stride, shrug my shoulders, and move on. It's not a life or death issue. I didn't know I... had the power to bring ppl down - wow! If you all love football that much, then my little snarky comments surely can't bother you that badly. I never claimed to make a huge difference in the world, but I don't plaster myself all over TV either, and ppl don't wear all kinds of paraphernalia with my last name on it. I have 2 respectable jobs which require a certain level of brain power & articulate language skills - something I just don't sense many football players possess - LOL!!! Lighten up's just a GAME.See More
14 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Rachel Thorne G-nite, folks....gotta get to work very early @ Ft. know, making a difference and all. lol Y'all have a great night & try to unwind before going to sleep - it's not cool to go to bed angry (esp over a football team). Haha! Hugs & kisses!!!
14 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Lisa Mclendon all I can say is you are a sad person...GET A LIFE...Dont wast our time with you disrespectful comment, keep them 2 yourself, Im highly educated, have a nice home, car and job of many years, my hobbies r none of you concern,,,,GET A LIFE....
14 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Lisa Mclendon Rachel Thorne is blocked from my facebook page....peace out.
14 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Lisa Mclendon Ive had tooo much to drink partying in Auburn today..........this BS is not worth an Auburn Tiger Fans TIME>>>>>>
14 hours ago · LikeUnlike

Kim Netteler football and all sports do serve a purpose in the world it brings enterainment and joy to people. so that way we can relax and have fun thats whole in does not matter the players educational level articulate language. and we wear thier jeresys to show support for that player that team and most of all for that school.
14 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading...

14 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading...

Rachel Thorne Hahaha! You folks are too funny. Silly sports - not worth getting your shorts in a wad over. By the way, ROLL EAGLE! Oops, meant to say WAR TIDE! Hahaha!!!!! Let's see who's gonna have a stroke b/c I mixed the two "sacred" football chants. LOL
48 minutes ago · LikeUnlike

Rachel Thorne I think the reason everyone gets so mad about my comments is b/c deep down inside, you all know I'm factually right - you can't refute my logic. Besides, it's just too much fun to mess w/ ppl over their silly much fun to see them get so fuming mad over a game. Now THAT'S great entertainment! Hahaha!!!!
46 minutes ago · LikeUnlike

Rachel Thorne
See, if Lisa McClendon hadn't gotten so furious & blocked me b/c she doesn't like my football opinion, she might find out that I'm a huge ASPCA supporter as well & we may have some other things in common. Sad when someone so highly educated... has such a narrow mind to block someone b/c they don't like their comments. But that's totally her choice & I respect that - no lost love where that's concerned. However, if I blocked everyone who ever made a negative comment toward something I liked (notice I never said anything personal against her), I would prob only have 2 FB friends. lol I appreciate all points of view....trying to keep my mind open - you never know what you may learn from ppl with differing POV's. Oh well, can't believe I'm wasting more time with this silly fight. Like I said, it's been great entertainment for me - always a treat to see ppl get mad over nothing. ;-D Y'all have a great day!See More
32 minutes ago · LikeUnlike

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just when I make fun of Alabama politicians, along comes Ralph ...

I got this e-mail today from Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens:

Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens has been asked for his opinion on the recent repeal vote on the healthcare bill. Here is his statement:
"I congratulate the members of Congress who voted to repeal the deeply flawed health care law signed by President Obama last year. As I have stated before, I believe the law to be unconstitutional, and for that reason, last year ensured the passage of legislation providing that Georgians cannot be forced to purchase health insurance. This vote serves notice that people are no longer willing to accept big government “solutions” that stifle job creation, pile even more debt on the American taxpayer, and do nothing to address spiraling health care costs."

By this I can draw two conclusions:

(1) You can't trust this guy because there's no way anybody asked for his opinion on the matter. And ...

(2) Based on his reasoning, I guess I won't have to pay my car insurance bill next week. After all, the government can't force me to buy insurance. Right?

I emailed his office and asked for clarification but got no response. Duh.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

No thanks, brother

One of the great things about living so close to Alabama (about 150 yards away in my case) is that their political leaders make ours in Georgia look so much better in comparison.

From former Gov. Fob James' bouncing around like a monkey to mock an opponent who had the audacity to believe in evolution (when we all know the Earth is just 5,000 years old and humans and dinosaurs once co-existed ... remember the Flinstones?) to ethically-challenged former Gov. Don Siegelman, their governors provide great entertainment, especially for newspaper columnists. Although, speaking on behalf of newspaper columnists everywhere, I remain a little crushed that Judge Roy Moore didn't get the office.

The latest Alabama clown is Gov. Robert Bentley, who pretty much said that you can't be his brother or sister unless you worship the same religion he does. You can read about it here. He has since apologized. So, in just a couple weeks in office, Bentley has already proven that he's not wise enough to speak in public, but also that you can't really take what he says too seriously anyway because he could totally take it back in a day or two.

Let me just say for the record that I'm not offended by what the governor said because I'm quite OK with not being his brother or sister or relative in any way. I've got enough crazy people in my family already, thank you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

St. Simons Island

Shellie and I had a great four-day, three-night trip to beautiful St. Simons Island, and it didn't hurt that someone allowed us a free stay at their townhome. The weather was cool and sunny during the day; cold at night. But it was downright equatorial compared to the previous icy week at home.

After nearly getting thrown out of a Dairy Queen for too much laughing, we decided to have a drink or two at the Village Inn & Pub. A couple of guitarists provided the entertainment, and the place was packed. Fortunately, a couple from Chicago, Loy and Linda Williams, invited us to join them at their table by the fireplace. After Shellie had spent much time talking about how much she'd like to learn to sail, we discover that Loy and Linda are sailors with a 40-foot sailboat, the Sandpiper.

They enlightened us about the sailing life, particularly that of living on a boat ... something coincidentally referenced in the "practice novel" "Oya's Wake" I wrote a little over a decade ago. It was a great way to start the trip with margaritas, music, dancing and great conversation.

Loy and Linda blog about their adventures. You can read it here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I pledge allegiance to the GEORGIA flag???

So glad to see that the first order of business for the Georgia State Senate on its first day Monday was to adopt a rule requiring members to say a pledge of allegiance to the GEORGIA flag.

Really? Granted, the state flag in this state has been used as a tool of both racism and racial healing. But, c'mon, it's just a stupid state flag. Unless we go into war with Alabama (and I'm not necessarily against that) and go charging across the Chattahoochee River with guns and bugles blazing, we don't NEED a state flag.

I still maintain that the Georgia General Assembly should just take every other year off and save money by spending a year of not making stupid rules and laws. Just pass a two-year budget, quit pandering to extremists and special interests and just try to make the state a little better instead of positioning for future political victories. I really don't care if you pledge allegiance to the flag or do the hokey pokey before each session. Just get some important work done.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kick em when they're, kick em when they're down

I have a new neighbor across the hall, Bob. I haven't met Bob. But I've met Bob's clothes in the dryer. Bob needs to get his clothes so my sheets can jump in the dryer and I can go to bed at some point tonight. Bob apparently isn't home right now, just his clothes. Ah, just another joy of bachelorhood, sharing a house converted into apartments.

Maybe it's just me, but when I wash and dry my clothes, I try to make sure I don't clog the flow around here. Hopefully, Bob will be home soon and move his darn clothes out of the way. If Bob doesn't hurry, I'll be forced to put my grubby hands on Bob's clothes and move them myself.

For now, though, I'm gonna assume Bob simply forgot about them and cut him some slack. I prefer to believe that Bob is more likely forgetful than disrespectful.

And if you're wondering where the subject line of this post came from, it's from Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry." Click and check it out a live performance of an early 80s classic.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ice Ice Baby

Ah, nothing like a good coating of ice that feels a little like broken glass. The kids are out of school and the day is filled with the lovely sounds of screams and wails of children diving into what they think is snow. Oh, well, it's a day off from school, and that's really all that matters. I know my little boy is happy.

This is what Broadway in Columbus looks like near my apartment. When we used to get ice storms back home in Oglethorpe, we'd meet behind the Lutheran Church and play tackle football. Few things are more beautiful than a blood-stained field of once pristine ice and snow.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Blawg Wild is coming back

It's 2011, I'm 40 years old, divorced, have moved from a 5-acre spread and 3,000-square-foot-foot home in the country to a tiny apartment in the historic district of Columbus, and I'm wondering what the heck my next step will be. Will I stay in the newspaper business? Will I have a novel published? Will those annoying alien abductions start up again?

Who knows?

So what better time to start blogging?

Starting next week, I'm bringing Blawg Wild back. Expect a good ol' boy spin on a few crazy things going on in the world, but now expect a lot more personal notes. 2010 was a humbling year, so I might as well let it all hang out for the world to see. I am who I am, and I'm no longer willing to apologize for myself or hide my feelings. I'm a pretty nice guy with some atypical views on politics, religion and life in general. It's kind of a midlife crisis without enough money for a sportscar.

Should be an interesting ride.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm moving

Well, kinda. My blog is. The official "Blawg Wild" of Chris Johnson the journalist will be moving to the Ledger-Enquirer's Web site. You'll be able to link directly to my official blog by clicking here.

As for this current Blogspot Blawg Wild, this will become more of a personal one for family and friends, so don't expect too many updates on this unofficial one.

The change is effective immediately.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My next job

As a Parrothead with the dream of becoming a full-time beach bum, I respectfully ask that none of you interfere with my efforts to land the job of "island caretaker" on Hamilton Island, Queensland, Australia. My friend Jenny Peaster passed this along to me as she knows I'm perfect for the job.

It requires 12 hours of work per month for six months, performing such arduous tasks as snorkeling, whale watching, feeding sea turtles and blogging about life on the island and throughout the Great Barrier Reef. Now this is a job at which I'm actually willing to work hard. Although, the living conditions -- being put up rent-free in a multimillion-dollar, three-bedroom beach home with pool and golf cart -- sound kind of tough.

They're looking for someone who can communicate with the media (heck, I am media) and can write and speak English (working on that now). They also say they're not looking for a "beautiful" spokesperson. Got the not-beautiful part covered too!

The six-month job begins July 1, so I don't guess I'll see y'all much for six months after that.

You can read more about it here and here and in this Sunday's column.

I'll be filling out my application at But, with a reported 13,000 hits every three seconds, I'm gonna need a lot of luck getting on that clogged site. It's not loading for me now, so the rest of you please quit clicking on it.

Smilin’ Bob

I'm amazed those Enzyte commercials are still on the air, you know — those with Smilin' Bob who takes the once-daily pill for "natural male enhancement." Especially after the CEO of the company that originally made the stuff went to prison for fraud a few months ago. Apparently, it doesn't work, no matter how happy Smilin' Bob and his wife are in the commercials. My son loves the commercials, even though he has no idea why the folks are so happy.

But I dunno if it's a complete fraud. I just took a whole box, but the pills got stuck in my throat and now my tonsils are freakin' huge. Unfortunately, I can't talk, and that has my wife smiling as much as the lady in those commercials.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ledger Lounge with Sonya Sorich

We used to do some cutting up and goofing off with our video dude at the paper, Joe Paull. That was put on hold for a while, but now we've got the Ledger Lounge with nightlife diva Sonya Sorich. She does a great job with it, and y'all need to check it out. Especially today ... it's her birthday. She manages to squeeze that tidbit of info into the latest Ledger Lounge.

Check out the video section by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Song played to death

I'm a huge Jimmy Buffett fan, but I've heard the song "Margaritaville" enough. He's recorded 200 better songs. Apparently, these guys in Colorado feel the same, albeit a bit more to the extreme. They allegedly killed a Special Forces soldier for playing "Margaritaville" on the jukebox. That's gonna probably seem like a pretty dumb idea as they spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Read about it here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Not running with the Heard

Some of you who know me well know that I sure wouldn't mind getting my grubby little hands on a piece of waterfront property, especially on Lake Blackshear or the Flint River. I thought about heading over to Lake Oliver, one of my kayaking grounds, this morning to bid on the $18 million Bill Heard estate. Unfortunately, I don't think the $1.57 I managed to scrape up between the cushions in my SUV was gonna make me much of a player. Read more about how the auction very expectedly went at the Ledger-Enquirer's Web site. Normally it makes me sick to see someone's property auctioned off or a bank twisting people's arms. Strangely enough, this one's not bothering me.
Ledger-Enquirer photos

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

3-D battle for No. 1

Here's a novel way to watch the BCS National Championship game between No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Florida on Jan. 8.

Carmike Cinemas will be showing the game in many of its digital-capable theaters live in 3-D. I didn't even know you could show any live events in 3-D. In Georgia, Carmike will be showing it at theaters in Savannah, Conyers and at Columbus' Carmike 15. You can also catch it in Fernandina Beach, Fla., Bradenton, Fla., and Mobile, Ala., among other places nationwide.

I, however, think they need to show the game in 4-D, you know, like they have in some theme parks where the seats move and other things make it seem even more real than 3-D.

They could spray water at you when the Gators' defense knocks the sweat off Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and they could shake your seat when Florida quarterback Tim Tebow barrels his way through the line of scrimmage. And since the game is in Miami, they could make the theater a little warmer and more muggy than usual.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Return to the chicken house

We returned to an abandoned chicken house in Macon County on Saturday night to get down and dirty with old friends from back home. OK, I didn't get down too much because I was the designated driver, but we had a great time. Glad guitar prodigy Lance Price was able to make it down to join Gravel Road for a few songs, too. I'll probably write more about the experience in Sunday's newspaper because that red dirt from back home sure sticks with you for a while. Thank goodness. This just might become an annual thing.

Pictured below are the entertaining R&B act Hillmon (including the bass barrel drummer) and Southern rockers Gravel Road.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Year in Preview

I don't know how many years I've been doing this, but my annual Year in Preview is now online ... in case you were wondering what all is gonna happen in 2009. You can read it here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

So this is Christmas

For all that's bad about this economy, there are silver linings. Gas prices are down, people can make a fortune with the right buys in the stock market now, and people are a little more appreciative of what really matters in life instead of 54-inch televisions and expensive cars and mansions. I rather like that this Christmas seemed a little less materialistic than, well, most Christmases since the early 1980s.

I'm OK with that. Of course, I have simple tastes. Give me a couple of palm trees, a hammock, a loyal dog, a pair of flip-flops, fun friends, good family and some spare change at the end of the week, and I don't need much else.

So, I can go ahead and declare this Best Christmas Ever on my end. My son didn't ask for much at all and got more than he asked for. He agrees it's the Best Christmas Ever.

And, quite frankly, that's about all that matters to me at the end of the day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


For anyone who may be confused at work, when the headphones are on, it doesn't mean I want to be closer to my music. I want to be left alone. So I can work. Believe it or not, I do that sometimes.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bluetooth bozo update!

Annoying Bluetooth bozo was at the gym again tonight, and, again, talked constantly. This would be the night the battery gives out on my MP3 player and I have to hear his hourlong conversation. And what's he talking about? Working out. He talks about working on his chest and his shoulders. He talks about how this and that tighten your abs. He suggests the idiot on the other end of the conversation get some Creatine like he does. He counts reps. All this over the phone. I swear I've seen this guy only twice in my life, on back-to-back nights. I believe the God of Annoyance is angry with me.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bluetooth bozo

I find Bluetooths annoying. Really, how constantly attached to other people do you have to be to endure having a phone attached to your ear just in case you're lucky enough to get a call from another human? Oh joy! So, if you own one, sorry.

But I'm sure you can't possibly be as annoying as the Bluetooth-wearing goofball at the gym tonight who talked off and on throughout his workout. It was almost midnight when I got to the 24-hour gym, so I was hoping to have the place to myself. I was disappointed enough to find another guy there, but then the guy had to make it worse by talking constantly. It was a half hour before I figured out he wasn't insane and talking to himself. Instead, he was merely annoying. He even counted his reps to the person on the other end, who must be the most bored human on the planet.

It reminded me of a scene from Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm." It's the kind of thing I would do. Check it out below (The clip does have typical "Curb" R-rated language):

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Coke is relieving the economic pressures of the nation by offering the best diet drink ever, Coke Zero, for just 99 cents. Sounds like a great deal until you see the bottle is a measly 16 ounces. Granted, our grandparents could get through a whole day with an 8-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola, but we're the Big Gulp generation. We super-size our fries and at the movies we buy tubs of popcorn that we could live in should we become homeless.

I can't find a dadgum 20-ounce bottle of Coke Zero now to save my life. Give a caffeine addict a break! I'm stuck with nasty Diet Pepsi or Pepsi One. And by the way, Coke Zero has zero calories and Pepsi One has one calorie. Come on, PepsiCo, step it up and knock out that last calorie! You can do it!

I've never understood soda economics. You go into a convenience store (oxymoron alert) and they've got a 20-ounce for $1.35, a 16-ounce for 99 cents or a 2-liter for $1.19. Who else prices like that?

"Yeah, we've got the '74 Pinto for $10,000, the '94 Cavalier for $20,000 and the brand new Porsche for $2,500. What's it gonna be?"

Friday, December 5, 2008

Satanic/Islamic dolls??

I was forwarded an e-mail yesterday from one of my right-wing acquaintances here in Columbus (everyone I know, it seems, is on the left or right ... not in the lonely middle with me.) She's on a lot of TV and radio commercials that start with "Hi, y'all!"

Basically its an e-mail making the conservative rounds about how this cooing, giggling doll sounds like it says "Islam is the light" at some point and later says "Satan is king" or something like that. I, however, think it's a case of hearing what you want to hear or seeing what you want to see. People hear dirty words in "Louie, Louie," hear Satanic messages in Beatles records played backward and see the Virgin Mary in cupcakes. If you're looking for problems, controversies and things to get worked up about, you'll find them. And the e-mail points out that while the Snopes Web site discredited this story, Snopes is run by two people who are "Jewish -- very Democratic (party) and extremely liberal." Oh my God! Jews are on the Web now! First Hollywood, now the Internet!

And these right-wingers are mad about this doll. Never mind that Muslims don't exactly praise Satan. In fact, their version of hell is gruesomely and repeatedly depicted in the Koran, much worse than the description of Jesus' descent into hell in the Christian book of Nicodemus that they edited out of the modern Christian Bible. So if this doll is praising Satan and Islam, it's probably gonna need therapy when it grows up. Or it'll get beheaded by the Taliban or something. I don't believe all religions are created equal and some are more evil than others, but a doll is a doll is a doll. Unless they're inflatable.

As for the doll, I'm going to keep playing with mine despite its efforts to convert me to Islam and Satanism at the same time. I once had a Godzilla "action figure" and I somehow managed to resist its urging me to crush cardboard Japanese villages. And my Darth Vader "action figure" could not lure me to the dark side of the force. However, my Jimmy Buffett "action figure" did manage to talk me into a frozen margarita or two.

Judge for yourself in the video at the top of this post. I once sat through a 15-minute videotape when I worked at the Americus paper in which a reader kept showing us how you could see the Virgin Mary in the trees in his backyard.

"Um, yeah, right."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thoughts from Atkins' memorial

I was glad to see that Wednesday night's memorial service for old buddy Steve Atkins was nontraditional. Just as he was. There was no formality. No religion. Cool music. Lots of photos. Stories. Tears, but plenty of laughs, too. It's also the first funeral I've ever been to where the F-word was part of a eulogy.

For the record, I want my death to be marked with a luau-style fun party. I want folks to get up and tell stories like they did at SA's service. I want Jimmy Buffett and party music played. I want folks to leave and say they had fun at my memorial service. And, like Steve, I want to be cremated because I don't believe you should be taking up valuable space on this planet if your soul has moved on.

There are lessons to be learned from Steve's death, but there are greater lessons to be learned from his life. SA lived in the moment. I don't mean in the present -- I mean in the very moment. Steve's life was always now, not yesterday or tomorrow. There's something to be said for planning for the future and learning from the past, but we should do more living in today. I'm guiltier of living in the past and fretting about the future than anyone I know.

Speaking of living in the past, one of the speakers was Amy Barker, whom I wrote a column about several years ago, prompting a nice e-mail from her. I can't find that column now, but the gist of it was this:

As a sixth-grader in junior high school, I decided to earn points by telling all the guys that my new girlfriend was the hottest girl in seventh grade ... yes, Amy Barker. I learned a valuable lesson I would apply later in life -- when you decide someone is your girlfriend, you should probably tell them about it. When my "friend" Clete Price got a little suspicious and informed Amy about this, she spoke her first words to me, "Get lost, you creep!" I swear those are the exact words. If Clete could have just kept his big mouth shut, heck, Amy Barker might still be my girlfriend.

After the service, Amy had to have her picture taken with the sixth-grader whose heart and reputation she shattered. It's amazing how something so horrifying at age 11 is so funny at age 38. Also amazing how I remember that and she doesn't. Of course, she didn't get her heart broken.

Monday, December 1, 2008

R.I.P., Steve Atkins

A tough stretch here for Macon County High School's Class of ’88. Steve Atkins, an old friend, classmate and one-time co-worker at good ol’ C-Mart in Oglethorpe, Ga., died Sunday. He was 38. You can find the obit and memorial service info here.

Steve was a tattoo artist and a bass player for rock bands (most recently Gravel Road) and liked to live on the edge a bit, and we weren't much alike, but we got along very well for two very different people. Of course, I guess everyone I know is "different people" from me ... which is good for them. He was also voted "best looking" from our senior class, which also made him "different people" from me. This photo at right comes courtesy of a mutual friend's MySpace page.

My thoughts go out to his family and friends, especially my old pals Shane and Clete, who have been much closer to Steve over the years. See y'all Wednesday night.

Steve, left, with Shane and Jeff during a Gravel Road gig in October.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A free "novel"

Oya's Wake is a "novel" I wrote to keep myself occupied after a car wreck in 2000 kept me out of work for a few weeks. Oya's Wake is about a straight-laced young accountant who gets mixed up in a teenage girl's murder and winds up taking refuge on a rebellious Cuban-American prostitute's sailboat.

You can get the e-book from Amazon here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Isn't it ironic? Don'tcha think? A little tooooo ironic

Does anyone else find it ironic that the entity to which all these failing companies are turning is more than $10 trillion in debt?

Just curious.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Attn: Christmas-loving Parrotheads

This info comes courtesy of fellow Parrothead Pat Mitchell of Columbus:

Peter Mayer, guitarist/singer/songwriter for Jimmy Buffett's Coral Reefer Band since the very late 1980s, will be performing a Christmas concert Dec. 18 at North Highland Church in Columbus ... you know, the one with that massive prayer tower.

Mayer, whose brother Jim also is a Coral Reefer, does a good bit of Christian music in addition to folk and rock. His song "Suzannah" off the 1996 album "Green-Eyed Radio" is one of my all-time favorite tunes. His Peter Mayer Band had a hit with "Piece of Paradise" in the late ’80s, too.

The show, which is sponsored by Columbus Hospice, will, of course, feature a love offering, and Columbus Hospice is a very worthy cause indeed. I'm not exactly sure what my plans are for that night, and organized religion ain't exactly my cup of tea. But it would be interesting to see Peter Mayer perform in a setting quite different from the drunken debauchery of a Jimmy Buffett concert.

For bios, discography, tour schedule and to sample pretty much every song he's ever recorded, check out Peter Mayer's Web site here. His music is light and sometimes folksy or spiritual, so if you're expecting Parrothead-type music, you'll be disappointed. Although, many of the apparently close-knit Coral Reefers show up on each other's albums so there may be some familiarity.

Just park it

On Thursday, I watched somebody spend over a minute trying to park their giant, gas-guzzling truck into a space at the parking garage while at least three other cars, including mine, were blocked from continuing on their way to another level where we parked like normal people. And just now, I watched a guy struggle to maneuver his vehicle backward into a parking space at the gym. His was the only car in that entire side of the parking lot. It was surrounding by at least 24 empty parking spaces. Getting out was not going to be complicated.

I'm convinced that people who spend all this time parking backward so they can get out easier later actually spend more time doing that than the people who park normally and back out later. Pulling through to an empty space at the mall so you can exit easier is one thing. But, seriously people, backing out of a parking space is not exactly rocket science. And it's a lot easier and less time-consuming than backing into one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Han Shot First

Like a lot of folks of my advanced age, I grew up watching "Star Wars" movies and collecting the action figures (they're ACTION FIGURES, not dolls!) and playing with my Death Star and Land Speeder toys. But I'm not a "Star Wars" fanatic (with apologies to Cody back home), nor was I ever a Trekkie, referring to fans of that TV series where people explored outer space in their jammies.

Because I wasn't quite deep enough into the series, I never knew what the shirts "Han Shot First" meant in nerd world. And I dared not ask the few people who I knew would know out of fear it would turn into a very long discussion and not a simple explanation. Fortunately, my friend and co-worker Sonya Sorich, succinctly explained it to me briefly yesterday as I designed a newspaper page with her column about NerdaCon, which comes to Columbus State University on Friday and Saturday. I won't be there. If you've ever wondered what "Han Shot First" is referring to, here's a summary of the great controversy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

When good nerds go bad

There's absolutely no way I can explain this story. It seems lurid ... involving affairs, prostitutes and such. But it's a virtual thing. Something called the "Second Life." It's where you live out a simulated life online with online friends, wives, and apparently prostitutes, too. Sorta. Kinda. Oh, heck, I don't know. I don't get it. Click here and see if you can figure out what may or may not be happening.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Spent Friday night watching the Brookstone-Schley County game in Ellaville and then kept heading east to my hometown of Oglethorpe to hear gifted guitarist Lance Price, pictured at right, play an impromptu gig in his parents' backyard. Lance is a popular solo act in metro Atlanta and does a good bit of shows on the road, too. He actually got to perform during the Ryder Cup, too. Hmm, the reasons to hate Lance are piling up. Not only can he play guitar 100 times better than I can dream of doing, but he gets to go to all these cool places. You can check out Lance's Web site by clicking here.

Also pictured and helping this night turn into a good ol' Macon County pick-n-grin are, from left, Jeff Kelley and Jason McKinney. Jason's the lead singer for Gravel Road, a good down-home band you can learn more about here. The first time I caught them was in an abandoned chicken house with a couple hundred folks. They've come a long way since then.

It's fun to hang out with guitarists who can run the gamut of songs from goofy to good. Along with such songs as "Message in a Bottle" "Layla" and "More Than Words," they were able to mix in two Britney Spears songs for fun ("Hit Me Baby One More Time" and "Toxic") and even the song. You know the one:

They say a man should always dress for the job he wants so why i am i dressed like a pirate in this restaurant its all because some hacker stole my identity so im here every evening serving chowder and iced tea should have gone to free credit i could have seen this coming at me like an atom bomb they monitor ur credit and send u email alerts so u dont end up serving fish to tourists in t-shirts

Now that's range. That and bumping into old and new friends made for a fun night.