Saturday, December 8, 2007

Football and more football

For more than a decade, I've been meeting friends from back home for the Georgia High School Association football semifinals at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Here are some scenes from 2007:

From left: Thad Green, David Green, me and Danny Blizzard

The cavernous Georgia Dome dwarfs the crowds for the first game: Class A Wilcox County's win over Athens Academy.

Carver-Columbus and Chamblee meet on the field after Carver's amazing 26-24 come-from-behind win in Class AAA on Friday. Carver scored three touchdowns in the last six minutes to rally from a 24-6 deficit. One of the best finishes I've seen in the Dome.

Worst thing about 2 full days of football? The food, such as Thad's Box-O-Cholesterol that cost him roughly $100 and future heart problems. I like to call this photo "Cause & effect."

This man robbed me by charging more than $4 for a fountain drink, and he seemed proud of it.

Not to reinforce any racial stereotypes or anything, but I definitely enjoy watching predominantly black high school and college marching bands. They're just more fun. Carver and Tucker rocked the Dome.

Northside-Warner Robins gets ready to charge the field en route to its 29th straight win. Right after Carver's thrilling comeback, the Eagles rallied from a 28-7 halftime deficit to earn a third straight trip to the Class AAAA title game. Four of my cousins graduated from there, so I've got to root for them. I'm convinced they're the best team in any of the state's classifications.

David and Thad were happy that I made sure the entire fourth floor of our hotel was vacant except for us. We stayed at this same hotel three years ago, and a "party girl" named Peaches had a big ol' party in the next room, keeping us awake all night. David and I spent the next day calling and asking for Peaches' room to make sure she didn't get a good morning and afternoon of sleep. These boys are just over a year apart in age and were my next-door-neighbors for much of my childhood. We played backyard football and basketball roughly 300 days a year way back when.

I told these security guards to look mean after they searched my bags.

Unfortunately, they had a hard time keeping their "mean" faces.

I didn't quite make it through all 10 games. I drove back Saturday night and watched Lowndes (I had the Lowndes beat as a sports writer in Valdosta) blank Camden County for their third trip to the Class AAAAA title game in four years. I traded my 40-and-over friends for a lighter one from the under-8 crowd and a more comfortable seat.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Here comes Bubba Claus

Note: This column was orginally published in 1998. There are now a gazillion plagiarized version on the Internet. I didn't think it was that great, but I reckon a lot of folks disagreed.


An open letter to the citizens of the Bi-City area from Santa Claus:

Dear ya'll:

I regret to inform you that, effective immediately, I will no longer be able to serve your area on Christmas Eve. Due to recent changes in my union contract renegotiated by North American Fairies and Elves Local 209, I now serve only certain areas of northern Wisconsin and west Michigan. I also get longer breaks for milk and cookies.

However, I'm certain that your children will be in good hands with my replacement, my third cousin from the South Pole, Bubba Claus. He shares my goal of delivering toys to all the good boys and girls, but there are a few differences between us, such as:

• There is no danger of a Grinch stealing your presents from Bubba Claus, who has a gun rack in his sleigh and a bumper sticker that reads: "These toys insured by Smith and Wesson."

• Instead of milk and cookies, Bubba Claus prefers that children leave an RC and pork skins on the fireplace. And Bubba doesn't smoke a pipe. He does dip a little snuff, though, so please have a spit can handy.

• Bubba Claus' sleigh is pulled by floppy-eared, flyin' coon dogs instead of reindeer. I loaned him my reindeer one time, and Rudolph's head now rests over Bubba's fireplace.

• You won't hear "On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen ..." when Bubba Claus arrives. Instead, you'll hear, "On Earnhardt, on Wallace, on Martin and Labonte. On Rudd, on Jarrett, on Elliott and Petty."

• "Ho, ho, ho!" has been replaced by "Yeehaw!" And you also are likely to hear Bubba's elves respond, "I heard that!"

• As required by Southern highway laws, Bubba Claus' sleigh does have a decal depicting "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip character Calvin relieving himself ... but not on a Ford or Chevy logo. His decal shows Calvin going wee wee on the Tooth Fairy.

• The usual Christmas movie classics such as "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Ernest Saves Christmas" will not be shown in your area. Instead, you'll see some lesser-known movies about Bubba Claus made in the late 1970s. Many feature Burt Reynolds as Bubba Claus, Jackie Gleason as a Grinch who says "You scumbum!" a lot and dozens of state patrol cars crashing into each other.

• Bubba Claus doesn't wear a belt. I'd turn the other way when he bends over to put presents under the tree.

• Lovely Christmas songs have been sung about me, including Elvis' "Here Comes Santa Claus" and Madonna's remake of "Santa Baby." Until this year, songs about Bubba Claus have been played only on AM radio stations in Mississippi. They include such classics as Mark Chesnutt's "Bubba Claus Shot the Jukebox," David Allan Coe's "Willie, Waylon, Bubba Claus and Me," and Hank Williams Jr.'s "If You Don't Like Bubba Claus, You Can Kiss My Icicle."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Go fetch, Hog!

After Thanksgiving dinner at my family's cabin in Macon County, Ga., several cousins and I went for a stroll down a dirt road to check out a place of two from our childhoods and see how far they'd fallen in or if they were even there anymore.

My wife shows up a little while to make sure we haven't fallen through the floor of some old house or something (because accidents follow me) and says, "Did y'all see that giant hog in that yard back there?" We didn't, but vowed to check it out.

Now, it's not unusual to see a hog in a yard back home, provided it's penned up and gonna be breakfast someday. But this wasn't that kind of hog. It was giant. I mean we're talking Hogzilla Jr. here. It looked like a wild boar, but was just chilling in front of the house. It was so big that I didn't think it was real until it turned its massive head toward me. I've known wild boars to be pretty mean sometimes, but this one seemed awfully calm.

Upon returning to our cabin, I asked my Dad about it, and he said he'd seen it plenty of times. It's because it's the family's pet. "They said it's a family pet and asked me not to shoot it. They said he thinks he's a dog."

This definitely deserves a follow-up next time at the cabin. I'll try to get the story on the Hog Dog next time and report back.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: 1621 revisited

As we prepare to welcome families into our home for a feast that will leave us thankful when they're finally gone until at least Christmas, this is the perfect time to revisit the day that started it all — the first Thanksgiving.

My ancestors came over on the Sunflower, which was a little party barge, complete with radio and beer cooler, that followed the Mayflower over to Plymouth Rock from the Old Country. At the top of our family tree is Cousin Eddie, who spent most of the voyage across the Atlantic jumping over waves left in the Mayflower's wake.

Cousin Eddie kept a journal that was handed down from generation to generation in my family and includes accounts of such historic events as the signing of the Mayflower Compact and the Indians' sale of Manhattan to the Dutch for just a few trinkets and Knicks season tickets. And, of course, it has the following account of the first Thanksgiving:

Hi. Cousin Eddie here. Me and the other folks around Plymouth had ourselves a big ol' meal last week. You see, Ebeneezer, Josiah and me scored big on our latest hunt. Killed a whole bunch of deer and wild turkey. Of course, if we hadn't killed off all that Wild Turkey, maybe Josiah wouldn't have fallen off the four-wheeler and broke his leg.

Anyway, we brought back all the dead animals, and the women folk — Sarah, Priscilla, Abigail and the gang — whipped up some side items, although Priscilla and Abigail got into it over the whole dressing or stuffing debate. "Getting ready for the Salem Bitch Trials a little early, ain't ya?" Abigail commented at one point.

We were gonna have a nice quiet dinner but then found out Jedediah invited the Indians over, too. He's been hanging out with the Indians a lot lately. I think he's having an identity crisis. Last month, he was running around with Old Mr. Samuel's slaves and asked us to start calling him "P. Doody."

Most of the Indians were pretty cool, but there's always that one you invite only because somebody's related to him and you'd feel guilty if you didn't. I didn't think Chief Full of Bull would ever get off that whole we-were-here-first, stop-calling-me-an-Indian kick.
But the food totally rocked, Pilgrim. Turkey, corn, potatoes and pumpkin pie. Of course, Prudence and her boyfriend, Crazy Jacob, got there late because they had to stop and buy a box of chicken fingers.

Anyway, we all went back for seconds and several of us had to kinda recline on the picnic table and undo those tacky Pilgrim belt buckles while we watched some Cowboys and Redskins throw this leather sack back and forth.

Meanwhile, the ladies cleaned all the dishes themselves and made plans to go shopping the next day, while the children played some popular games here in the settlement — such as marbles, leapfrog and Grand Theft Auto III.

When our dinner settled, Jedediah suggested we all go throw around a leather sack, too. However, the game ended far too soon as we realized that we were extremely white and British and the Indians all ran off when William lined up in the shotgun formation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hunting advice

I'm not much for hunting, but I have invented a wonderful new weapon for hunting deer. Check out my television commentary during Friday's 7 p.m. newscast on WLTZ Channel 38 to learn exactly how it works.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

No. 1 in the Outdoors

Just wanted to make sure y'all knew this Friday has been declared "No. 1 in the Outdoors Day" in Georgia by Gov. Sonny Perdue, the same guy who thinks praying for rain is sound environmental policy. All males in Georgia are asked to do all their peeing outdoors on Friday to cut down on toilet flushing and water usage. The effort is expected to save Georgia 5 million gallons of water. Let's just hope it ain't cold.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Better than Wimbledon

You'd have to try pretty hard to be any geekier than I was 16 years ago.

I was all set to become a computer programmer as I mastered the ins and outs of my high-tech Commodore 64, which had 64 — yes, a whopping 64 — kilobytes of memory. I had quit baseball because I was convinced I had simply forgotten how to play. Turns out I was dang near blind and had to get glasses — as if I needed an accessory to go with my mom-styled bowl haircut.

But I wasn't a geek at heart. I was Casanova at heart. At least, I was in my dreams — though even in those dreams I somehow kept winding up late for algebra class in my underwear. Then, and only then, did the girls at school notice me. Then I'd wake up and be invisible to them once again.

So, at 14, I had pretty much decided that I would never, ever get a French kiss from a girl. Unless you count that one unexpected encounter with a female giraffe at the zoo.

And with baseball out of the picture, I had to choose another sport. Either that, or stay at home and subject myself to such horrors as mowing the grass and washing Dad's truck. I chose tennis. Why? Two words: tennis skirts. Of course, the high school coach told me I'd have to wear regular white shorts. Oh, well.

I went to a crash course in tennis, a summer camp at Florida State University. In June 1985, FSU's Cash Hall played host for a week to high school participants in baseball, football and basketball camps. All the camps mingled some around the courtyard pool, but players of each of the sports had to retreat to their unisex dorm floors at night — except the tennis players. Our camp was so small that the guys and girls shared a floor. And my life would never be the same.

We were all geeks, with the exception of one wild 15-year-old girl from Thomasville, Ga. As sweet goddess Fate would have it, we were paired in the mixed doubles tournament.

I don't remember exactly how it happened. It was about midnight, and we were sitting on the floor at the end of the dormitory hall. I'd been avoiding the inevitable all day long. I knew I'd have to kiss her at some point, and I knew I'd screw it up. It would be just like the giraffe experience, only she'd wind up throwing peanuts at me. Finally, she gave me a subtle come-on:
"Are you gonna kiss me or not? I'm getting sleepy!"

I knew it was now or never, or then or never since this is past tense. I lunged in, mouth open and tongue flying around like a retriever hanging his head out a car window. I was in panic mode. What if my tongue started going the wrong way? What if she caught me peeking? What if she thought, "Man, this is like kissing a retriever."

By the time the kiss ended, about 2 a.m. in the same spot at the end of the hall as our counselor, a 21-year-old player on the college tennis team, stepped over us as if we were a ripple in the carpet, my mind was at ease. Of course, my tongue was tired.

We finished second in the mixed doubles tournament, by the way. We each got awards. But as far as I was concerned, it wasn't for second place; it was for first base.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

TV stars

The Ledger-Enquirer and WLTZ officially launched their joint-effort newscast this week. They air at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and an 11-minute version at 11 p.m. on Channel 38. Look for commentaries during the 7 p.m. show from my colleagues Dusty Nix on Tuesdays, Tim Chitwood on Wednesdays, nightlife diva Sonya Sorich on Thursdays, and look for my commentary on Fridays.

This, of course, means that I'll have to start shaving before taping my commentaries and I'll look 12 years old again. Although, I won the battle to keep me from having to wear a tie on the air.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Vote today

Don't forget there's an election in Columbus today. Turnout is supposed to be light with about .0001 percent of the voters (some guy named Earl) in Muscogee County expected to cast ballots. That's because the only item on the ballot is the TAD. I don't know the TAD and don't know what he's running for, so I'm abstaining. But there's now way I can support a guy who puts a definite article before his name and puts his name in ALL CAPS.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

TV puts Week in Review on hold

I'm putting my "Week in Review" on hold now that I've accepted an opportunity to do a commentary on WLTZ's 6 o'clock news every Friday. The Ledger-Enquirer and WLTZ have teamed up to present the newscast. Look for me every Friday. The scary part is that I must now shave my face instead of having my scraggly half-beard on TV. Yep, I've gone over to the dark side. I'll keep it light and I'll eventually loosen up in front of the camera. See ya on Fridays.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: A picture worth saving

My wife ordered me to clean my room last night. "My room" is the spare bedroom where I keep my computer, books, old trophies, various sports memorabilia and "tacky" art such as the $2 print of dogs playing roulette.

I like my room just the way it is. I can find all my old papers amid the 10 gallons of trash covering my 1-gallon trash can. And there's a unique sense of order, mostly maintained by an array of spider webs.

I decided to shift the trash around a little to appease my wife and even made vacuum cleaner noises when she walked past the door.

Among the many items I discovered while climbing over the trash pile were really bad stories I wrote in college, photos of people I don't know but probably am related to and various woodland creatures.

Most of this junk found its way into a trash bag after all. Then I came across an item worth saving — my fifth-grade class photo.

I've seen only a handful of these boys and girls in the past decade. Most seem to have fallen off the face of the earth. Very few stayed home.

Of course, there's me, the class clown, sitting up front with my bowl haircut styled by Mom. I was also the kickball king, spelling bee champ and elementary school Valentino. I married every girl in the class at least twice in playground ceremonies. Gee, I hope those weren't official; I can't afford the alimony.

There's Paul on the left. The whole schoolyard circled us one day as we fought over a ponytailed cutie named Paula. Because we were friends, we never landed a punch. Dennis, the class tyrant, was so disappointed no blood was spilled that he told on us for fighting in the first place. Ten years later, Paul was a groomsman in my wedding. I don't know where Dennis is, but I bet the mafia or FBI does.

There are the teacher's pets — Darrell and Angela. I've seen Darrell once since high school. We played golf when he flew home on a break from his doctorate studies in Native American literature in New Mexico back in 1996. Angela is a well-paid geologist with a dog that goes to a pet psychiatrist. I hope I never get that rich and successful.

There's Stephen, the outcast no one played with, on the right. He went on to become a football star in high school. A couple of weeks before graduation, he and some buddies were goofing off in a hot rod when he lost control and crashed. He was paralyzed from the neck down. Last year, he decided he'd had enough of this world and rolled his wheelchair off a fishing dock at his college.

Even without the photo, I'll never forget Robin. With bright blue eyes, long blonde hair and a Texas accent, she's still the cutest 10-year-old girl I've ever seen. She was my first crush and my first heartbreak as she moved back to Texas before sixth grade began. I wonder where she's at. I wonder where they're all at.

I should clean my room more often.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Week in review

  • President Bush approves a $285 million package for Mongolia, the latest country to receive U.S. aid in exchange for committing to democratic reforms. In a related story, Chris Johnson applies for a democratic aid package after letting family vote on whether to have fried chicken or hamburgers for dinner.
  • The Dalai Lama is formally installed as a professor at Atlanta's Emory University. The exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, whose face is recognized around the world, now is the bearer of a faculty ID card. However, in a surprise move, the school announces that the Dalai Lama will be teaching introductory volleyball and sports appreciation.
  • Author and radio host Garrison Keillor gets a restraining order against a Hawkinsville, Ga., woman he claims has sent him explicit e-mails, telephone calls and disturbing gifts, including a petrified alligator foot and dead beetles. I like Garrison Keillor, but it's obvious the guy just don't appreciate nice gifts.
  • Civilian deaths are down for the second straight month, meaning the surge is working ... or Iraq's running low on civilians.
  • China launches its first lunar probe. However, moments after the Long March 3-A rocket soars into outer space, it is recalled when it is revealed it's a piece of junk like everything else made in China.
  • Despite the recall, the lunar probe reaches the moon. In a phone call to Earth, the man in the moon notes that the probe is uncomfortable.
  • The United States puts renewed pressure on Cuba to push away from communism ... while continuing to gladly hand its jobs and economic future to communist China. But that's completely different, right?
  • America, the nation that has raised gluttony from sin to glory, sees competitive eater Joey Chesnutt set a new record by downing 103 Krystal burgers in eight minutes in the Krystal Square Off in Chattanooga. Chesnutt wins $10,000, but immediately invests $9,900 of it in toilet paper.
  • The number of vacant homes for sale rises in the third quarter, according to the government. The Census Bureau report puts the number of vacant homes for sale at 2.07 million in the period, up about 2 percent from the second quarter, and 7 percent above year ago levels. Of that number, approximately 2.06 million are in Columbus, Ga.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Don't trust those cows

Last week I had business back home, which meant a long, lonely drive down two-lane roads through the countryside.

The sun was shining, and I decided to roll down the window and breathe some of that fresh country air shortly after I left Buena Vista on Highway 41. I rolled it up two seconds later ... in a hurry.

I had forgotten what we country folks mean by the term "fresh country air." There's no such thing. It's an inside joke we country folks play on city slickers. We enjoy seeing the looks on the faces of city folks when they come to the country and take a big whiff of "fresh country air," better known to us as cow poopee.

It was the first time this year I'd seen cows. Living in the big city of Columbus, you don't see many cows, front porches with swings or drivers who use turn signals. I miss all of them.

But I still think cows are up to something. Every time I passed a herd, they all looked up at me very suspiciously. I'm sure as soon as my car was out of sight, one of the cows would say, "All right, roll the nuclear missile back out from behind the haystack and let's get back to work."

Intelligence-wise, cows are the most underrated animals on the planet. Sure, you think that all they do is lie around all day, eat and pass gas — kinda like your typical married man. But when you look into a cow's eyes, you can tell it is deep in thought — totally unlike your typical married man.

When I look at cows, I always think they're talking about me. Or maybe I'm just paranoid because I carry a leather wallet.

"Hey, Betsy. Moo. See that redneck over there? Moo. I think he tipped me over once while I was sleeping. Moo."

Yes, I admit it. I used to go cow-tipping. We small-town folks didn't have racquetball and we were too poor to play golf at the country club, so for recreation we piled into a pickup, crawled through a barbed-wire fence and tipped over sleeping cows ... and prayed we weren't in a bull pen.

These small-town Saturday nights have led to the formation of such crazy groups as FACT (Friends Against Cow-Tipping). They even have an Internet site with a link to a cow-tipping alternative for animal lovers — online electronic cow-tipping. They even moo when you push them with your mouse.

Some of you city folks also may think cow-tipping is cruel, but they get their turn. Each year a bunch of bulls chase humans who loiter in the streets of some podunk town in Spain to a stadium where a guy in a funny hat and tights (called a matador) dances around as bulls chase him and Spanish folks in the stadium shout "Ole!" which in English means, "Hey you idiot in the funny hat, look out! There's a bull behind you!"

Now, that is cruel. Cow-tipping is harmless fun. The only cruel thing about cow-tipping is what happens to your clean sneakers. And you thought your mom got mad when you tracked mud across the living room carpet.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A little perspective

Many Monday mornings when I come to work, there's a voice mail waiting on me from one of my most loyal readers. He never leaves his name or phone number and has been calling me for a few years now, usually leaving his message around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. He reads my column on the National Federation for the Blind Web site ... well, it's read to him by the computer anyway. He's always got a compliment and usually has a little advice, too. This week, after I wrote a column about riding bicycles, he left a long voice mail. Here's an excerpt:

"As you know, I am blind, and one of the biggest disappointments of my life was when I wanted to buy me a $5 bike to play with in the backyard and my mother talked me out of it. I could have never learned to ride it, but I could ride it enough to enjoy it. And I've often wished she hadn't talked me out of it."

He advised me to get on that bike and ride it just as long as I can. The old man always puts things into perspective. Thanks, old-timer.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Week in review

  • Under pressure from the FDA, the makers of Viagra, Levitra, Cialis and other ED drugs agree to label the possible side effect of sudden hearing loss. So, now, not only can men have sex whenever they want, but they don't have to talk afterward. The Man Club meets and unanimously votes these as the best drugs ever!
  • Republican presidential hopefuls have their umpteenth debate with each trying to establish himself as the most conservative of the bunch. Mitt Romney wins the debate when he announces he doesn't even get naked to take a shower and anyone who does is a pervert.
  • Solidifying his status as the king of white trash, Kid Rock is arrested after getting into a fight outside an Atlanta Waffle House in the wee hours of the morning.
  • The World Bank announces the impact of recent turbulence in financial markets on developing countries has been limited ... due perhaps to the fact that the Third World is now worth an estimated 12 cents.
  • A second-grader's drawing of a stick figure shooting a gun earns him a one-day school suspension.
    Kyle Walker, 7, was suspended last week for violating Dennis Township Primary School's zero-tolerance policy on guns, the boy's mother, Shirley McDevitt, told The Press of Atlantic City. Lest you think this was an another overreaction by our paranoid authority figures, it should be noted that the stick figure has a history of mental problems and has been arrested several times.
  • "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling tells a group of fans that Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay. She makes the announcement after Dumbledore is arrested for soliciting sex in a men's bathroom at the Minneapolis airport.
  • Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, says he doesn't believe Dumbledore is gay, but says he's awfully cute and if he were the least bit gay, he'd go out with Dumbledore, Hogwarts and all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Big bad bag boy

When the phone rings at my desk after 11 p.m., it's never good news.

The only people who know they can find me there at that hour are the newspaper's production department, various law enforcement agencies and my wife. I just hope it's not my wife.

"I need you to drop by the grocery store on your way home and pick up some milk, orange juice, toilet paper and various feminine hygiene products."

"Sorry," I say, "no can do."

I would print her response here, but in strict accordance with the Georgia Newspaper Decency Act of 1937, I'd better just print my side of the conversation.

"Yes, dear. Yes, dear. Yes, that would hurt. A cheese grater, huh?"

Needless to say, I follow orders because I know who the man of our house is, and I don't want her to get mad.

No offense to our local establishments, but I hate going to the grocery store. Maybe it's because I have flashbacks to my days as a Food Transferral and Arrangement Engineer (bag boy) making $3.25 an hour. I often scream out with night terrors, still seeing Mrs. Jones chasing me around C-Mart in Oglethorpe, Ga., with a squashed loaf of Wonder Bread in her hand. The only tip she'd give me was the tip of her walking cane to the back of my head. You know what they say: "Hell hath no fury like a woman whose bread got mashed."

Most of these tragic bread-mashing incidents occurred on Fridays. I also seem to recall Mary Jane in Checkout Lane 2 wearing tight blue jeans every Friday. But I'm sure that bagging groceries behind her and putting Wonder Bread in the same bag as a 10-pound tub of lard was pure coincidence.

Though the parking lot of the store was filled with angry victims of my ruthless scheme to mash the world's bread, it was safer than the inside of the store. Remember that Tyrannosaurus rex from "Jurassic Park?" Compared to my boss, that T-Rex would be considered cute and cuddly.
I'm fairly certain that he didn't like me. I deciphered that from subtle, tiny hints he would drop in our conversations, such as, "Hey, kid, did I remember to tell you today that I don't like you?"

"Yes, sir."

"I must have forgotten to scratch that off my to-do list. Now cut the chatter and get back to work!"

I'm not sure why he didn't like me. Maybe it's because Slim Jims began mysteriously disappearing from the checkout aisles after I was hired. Again, pure coincidence — just like it's pure coincidence that Slim Jims were suddenly overstocked after I quit.

Though I worked there for just a few months, I developed the skills that serve as the foundation for my career today — such as knowing where the boss is at all times and how to respond when caught sleeping on the job.

"Chris, are you snoring?" my boss asks a couple of times a day.

"Uh, no. I'm just thinking really hard. My brain always makes that sound when I think."

"Well, maybe you shouldn't think so hard. You're starting to drool on your desk."

Granted, I may not be much more of an asset to the newspaper than I was to C-Mart. But since we don't sell Slim Jims at the Ledger-Enquirer, I'm not too much of a liability, either.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I look like this?

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to a large group of middle school students at Arnold Magnet Academy in Columbus. Ms. Jill Sammons' class sent me a nice thank-you poster with a new version of my column sig. Thought I'd share ...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Return to Angel City

My friend Gregg and I went to Angel City, the motorcycle haven in Unadilla, Ga., for the fall rally this past Saturday. Gregg rides a Yamaha. I ride a Mazda SUV. Yes, I'm born to be mild.

Of course, while I'm at this rally with thousands of bikers, a biker legend came to the Ledger-Enquirer during my vacation: Erik Estrada, who played motorcycle cop Ponch on the old TV series "CHIPS." Read my co-worker Brad's blog to learn about that visit.

While I'm not a biker myself, I do enjoy mingling with the biker crowd. They have a sense of unity a lot like you find among Parrotheads at Jimmy Buffett concerts. Only they prefer beer and Jack Daniels over margaritas and the revving of engines over the revving of blenders. I didn't have my camera with me this time, so Smitty and the gang from back home won't have to worry about incriminating photos on the Internet. I imagine photos from this latest rally will be going up soon on the Angel City site.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Week in review

  • Sen. Larry Craig is inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame, marking the Republican lawmaker's first ceremonial appearance back in his home state since his arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting became public in August. He also becomes the first person in Idaho to receive the prestigious Udaho award.
  • Traffic jams plague Columbus when jaywalkers and pedestrians prove they can actually get slower crossing the street as they come to a complete stop. The National Guard is deployed to remove the stationary pedestrians. Families may go to the Government Center at 10 a.m. Tuesday to identify family members collected from the streets.
  • A boy who was bitten multiple times by a Rottweiler running free on a Hawaiian beach is awarded $856,000 by a jury that concluded the dog's owner was negligent. Like every other owner of dogs who've mauled and bitten people, Mariko Bereday insists the dog is docile and not aggressive.
  • Thousands of cash-strapped Hawaiians tie raw meat to themselves and taunt Mariko Bereday's Rottweiler.
  • Boxer Evander Holyfield, 44, loses a unanimous decision to Sultan Ibragimov but insists he will continue pursuing the heavyweight title. Asked by a trainer following the fight, "How many fingers am I holding up?" Holyfield responds "1,347,321."
  • The rivalry between Coke and Pepsi takes a physical turn when a Pepsi deliveryman allegedly punches his Coke counterpart in the face at a western Pennsylvania Wal-Mart. When the Coke deliveryman left the store, his counterpart allegedly punched him in the face three times, breaking his nose and giving him a black eye, police said. No charges have been filed, but police characterized the incident as a misdemeanor simple assault. Pepsi is expected to roll out its "Pepsi Packs a Punch!" ad campaign any day now.
  • Thumper, a black Labrador retriever, is getting credit for saving a Greenville, Maine, man when a fire swept through his home. Thumper grabbed the sleeping Roland Cote by the arm to wake him. Cote said the fire marshal investigator believes the blaze was started when Princess, the family cat, tipped over a kerosene lantern. Cote says he and his pets escaped safely, but he says Princess did get her tail singed by the flames. Princess, however, has accused Thumper of staging the fire.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Week in review

  • Australian customs officers discover nearly 10.5 ounces of ecstasy tablets hidden inside a Mr. Potato Head toy sent to Australia from Ireland -- which explains Mr. Potato Head's huge smile.
  • Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), further giving evidence that his state is aptly named, reneges on his promise to step down from the Senate. His fellow senators blast Craig's decision, saying that his arrest for soliciting gay sex in a public restroom completely goes against the Senate's traditional views of appropriate sexual behavior -- namely that it should be between a man and his escort or intern.
  • Hurricane "expert" William Gray slightly downgrades his forecast, calling for four named storms in October and November, including two hurricanes, one of them major. Gray’s team at Colorado State University had earlier predicted five named storms. Gray later revises his prediction of having scrambled eggs for breakfast, changing it to Frosted Flakes. Gray then announces he's not even sure what a hurricane is. "I live in Colorado for crying out loud!" he says. "Ask somebody in Florida and leave me alone!"
  • After a million-plus ‘‘Thomas & Friends’’ toy trains were pulled because of lead paint, the maker of the smiley-faced toys sent customers ‘‘bonus gifts’’ — and now thousands of those have been recalled, too. In hindsight, maybe handing America's economy to China on a silver platter wasn't such a good idea. Meanwhile, millions of 3-year-olds meet in Chicago and declare war on China, arming themselves with lead paint-covered toy guns made in China.
  • UPS announces it is implementing a system that it says will allow its international shipments to cross borders more quickly ... by dressing the packages as Mexican farm workers.
  • White trash pop star Britney Spears loses custody of her two kids to former husband Kevin Federline. Losing your kids to Kevin Federline is the equivalent of losing a war against Bermuda.
  • A Georgia Tech study finds that people are becoming emotionally attached to those Roomba robotic vacuums, giving them nicknames and worrying when they signal for help. A related study by researchers at Arizona State University finds that people are really stupid.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court on declines to hear a challenge to Alabama’s ban on the sale of sex toys, ending a nine-year legal battle and prompting a warning to store owners to be prepared to clean off their shelves. The court vote was not revealed, but an insider reports overhearing Justice Clarence Thomas pleading, "Aw, c'mon, guys! Please!!"

Go Rockies!

Amid all the negative stories about pro and other athletes lately -- Olympic medalist Marion Jones finally admitting using steroids before her 5-medal performance at the 2000 Olympics, Vick and his dogfighting, Bonds and his illegitimate home run record, the New England Patriots cheating with the help of technology -- is this story:

The Colorado Rockies players (on their own) have decided to donate their share of playoff winnings to the widow of Mike Coolbaugh, who was killed July 22 when he was struck with a line drive while coaching first base for the Rockies' minor league affiliate Tulsa Drillers. The Coolbaughs have two children, ages 5 and 3, and one on the way. If the Rockies make it all the way through the World Series, the players' share could be around $10 million. So, I'm rooting for the Rockies. Besides, two of their players -- Matt Holliday and Troy Tulowitzki -- helped me finish second in my fantasy baseball league.

Click here to read more about the Rockies' gesture.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Interstate pit-stop

"What'll it be, hun?"

This is the sound of music to me at 2 a.m. on some forgotten exit along the interstate. Not only will this sweet lady keep my cup filled with hot coffee and bring me a plateful of eggs, grits, sausage and toast, but she calls me "hun." Even my wife won't call me "hun" unless it's accompanied by "Atilla."

It's one of my favorite guilty pleasures, stopping at these 24-hour breakfast joints far away from home. You know the place by some name — Waffle House, Huddle House, Omelet House, Coffee Kettle, etc. As Shakespeare said, "A Waffle House by any other name would smell just as much like cigarettes and grease."

I like sitting here alone, a total stranger that no one will remember one minute after I walk out of here — though they do steal glances at me as I jot down notes in my reporter's notebook. What kind of freak stops in a Waffle House to write at 2 a.m.? "If that's sober," the man staring at me from three booths away is thinking, "I'll stay drunk, thank you."

The crowd in here is the same as it is every 2 a.m., though this is my first time in this particular Waffle Huddle Omelet Coffee House. A few stools down sits an old man with his coffee and Camels. When one goes out, he lights another. I figure he's been sitting there awhile, probably since the Beatles split.

Behind me is a table of teen-age boys discussing graphically — though unrealistically — their exploits with the ladies before Saturday evening turned into the wee hours of Sunday morning. Nothing wrong with a little macho fantasy talk, I guess. Been there, done that. Besides, when they're ready for reality and have $50 to spare, there's always that lady over there by the pay phone.

In the corner booth sits a couple laughing and pumping quarters into the jukebox, which, thank goodness, has a slew of Merle Haggard songs. I don't think these two folks knew each other too well before tonight, but I get the feeling they'll know each other all too well by morning.

And, of course, there are the two ladies waiting tables. Linda's in her 40s, Sally Ann's in her 50s. Linda is happy to see me. Everybody else in here is simply riding out the night and probably spent most of their money before coming here. I'm a sober stranger who might actually leave a decent tip. And I always do — a least a quarter per "hun."

And there's the intense cook, who seems to be cooking for 500 customers instead of the dozen that are here. He can't stop to breathe while Linda and Sally shout out, "Number three, scattered and smothered, over easy, scorch it with extra cheese!" Where he found time to get those four dozen tattoos, I have no idea.

"Here you go, darlin'," Linda says as she delivers my meal. "Darlin" — that's worth two quarters. Linda looks at me funny as I sample the grits and say, "My compliments to the chef." The "chef" glares at me briefly, wishing it weren't too late to spit in my cheese grits.

I drop two bucks on the table as I leave — two "darlins" and four "huns" — and then stick two quarters in the jukebox and request the same song ("Achy Breaky Heart") three straight times. They're gonna remember me for more than a minute after I leave, by golly.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Week in review

  • Iranian President Mahmoud I'vebeenjabbed speaks at the United Nations and (in a move criticized by American right-wingers who decry the lack of freedom in other countries) at Columbia University. President Bush also speaks to the U.N., but no translator was provided.
  • In a House hearing, congressmen criticize sex and violence in hip-hop, but shies away from censorship. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., refuses to the attend the hearing, saying that most "Congressional hearings are wack, and I'd rather get crunk on a budget bill."
  • Nepal's mountaineering authorities are calling for a ban on nudity and attempts to set obscene records on Mount Everest. If naked people literally freezing their buns off on the world's tallest mountain are the worst things your country has to deal with, you're in pretty good shape.
  • A Maiden, N.C., man who bought a smoker at an auction found what he thought was a piece of driftwood wrapped in paper inside. When he unwrapped it, he found a human leg, cut off 2 to 3 inches above the knee. The smoker had been sold at an auction of items left behind at a storage facility, so investigators contacted the mother and son who had rented the space where the smoker was found. The mother, Peg Steele, explained her son had his leg amputated after a plane crash and kept the leg following the surgery ‘‘for religious reasons’’ she doesn’t know much about. The new owner of the smoker was obviously upset, especially when his homemade honey barbecue sauce just didn't work with the leg.
  • Matthew Hiasl Pan's fight to be declared a human in an Austrian court fails. Pan happens to be a chimpanzee, but the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories. Pan's argument went astray when he pooped on the judge's desk and began picking bugs out of his hair. Reached for comment, Judge Lance Ito of the O.J. Simpson murder trial simply shrugged and said, "And?"
  • The Atlanta Falcons pick up their first victory of the season by beating the Houston Texans 26-16 before a thrilled crowd of 12 people at the Georgia Dome and dozens more watching at home on television.
  • Amid the antics of the Falcons' DeAngelo Hall, the latest legal woes for Michael Vick and cheaters like the San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds, baseball bid farewell to one of the classiest team players to ever take the field as the Houston Astros' Craig Biggio played his final game. And if your eyes didn't mist up seeing Biggio reduced to tears when messages from his kids were played on the giant screen in Houston, then you have absolutely no heart. Might want to compare that to Bonds' whatever reaction to playing his final home game as a San Francisco Giant.
  • The world's major philosophers meet in Buenos Aries to re-examine the manta "What doesn't kill me only makes me stronger." It is revised to "What doesn't kill me only makes me bitter and more depressed." The philosophers add that "Behind every dark cloud is a lightning bolt just waiting to strike you in the butt."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Bathtime burglar

As much as I've come to enjoy living in Columbus, I can't get used to the fact that you have to lock your doors around here.

Growing up in tiny Oglethorpe, Ga., we never bothered to lock our doors. We felt safe. Even when we did bother to lock the front door, we were courteous enough to leave a note for friends and relatives such as, "The key is under the flower pot." Good thing many criminals are illiterate.

But once you venture away from the friendly confines of the Oglethorpe city limits — an area some call "The Modern World" — danger lurks. Thieves lurk. Stuff's just lurkin' all over the place. You better lurk out.

The only time I ever heard of anyone almost getting robbed back home was when my Uncle Johnny spotted a man climbing into his bedroom window. He quickly devised a scheme to scare him away.

"Sue! Hand me my shotgun!"

My aunt responded, "Johnny, you know we ain't got no gun!"

My first brush with thievery came when I was in college at Georgia Southwestern in Americus. I had a new car, and — just as I had always done with my piece-of-junk 1978 Celica — I kept the keys under the seat.

On the first day I drove it to school, I returned from classes only to find an empty parking space where I was sure I had parked my car. After a desperate hour of searching, I found the car at the other end of campus with a note from my sneaky ex-girlfriend attached to the steering wheel: "Love your new car. Drives great."

My closest brush with theft came in 1992 in Valdosta, Ga., where we were wise enough to keep the doors to our apartment locked.

I had a rare day off and was taking a hot bath with Mr. Bubble (that's a soap, not a man) when I heard the venetian blinds of the living room rustling. I got out of the tub and, sure enough, there was a burglar unhooking my VCR and television — which made up pretty much all of our wordly possessions — from the wall.

"Hey!" I yelled. And at that very moment, he and I both came to a realization: I was nekkid. He gave me a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look that the word "fear" just can't explain.

He dashed out onto the patio, and I followed. Although, like a dog chasing a car, I didn't know what I was going to do with him if I caught him. Fortunately for both of us, he got away. Unfortunately, the fear turned to laughter for several housewives taking their afternoon walks around the lake.

I guess the thought of tangling with a wet, naked man will make just about any guy run like a gazelle chased by a lion. I've got a bum left knee, yet I can guarantee you that no wet, naked man will ever lay a hand on me.

I'll make an exception, though, for Mr. Bubble.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Week in review

  • Famed French mime Marcel Marceau dies at 84 after getting trapped in an invisible box with no air.
  • Adm. William Fallon, the head of U.S. Central Command, says he does not believe current tensions with Iran will lead to war and urges for greater emphasis on dialogue and diplomacy. Apparently, America's first-strike policy applies to countries who are not building nuclear programs and who are not bankrolling, arming and supporting terrorists. But if Iran were annoying, as Iraq was, Fallon is certain we'd blow them off the face of the Earth.
  • Outgoing VA Secretary Jim Nicholson says growing demands from a prolonged Iraq war are taxing his agency and he's struggling to reduce ever-increasing disability claims from injured veterans. He adds that his job would sure be a lot easier if it weren't for all those darn veterans.
  • A study finds that from rural Australia to Siberia to Oklahoma, languages that embody the history and traditions of people are dying. While there are about 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, one dies about every two weeks. In about 14,000 weeks, there won't be any languages spoken.
  • University of Florida officials are criticized after campus police used a Taser on student Andrew Meyer during a forum with Sen. John Kerry. Hundreds more students requested to be Tasered after 15 minutes of hearing Kerry speak but were denied.
  • A new report shows that Americans waste about 38 hours a year sitting in traffic. Another report shows that Americans waste nearly 2,000 hours a year at work when they could be out living life.
  • Nebraska State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha sued God last week, seeking a permanent injunction against the Almighty for making terroristic threats, inspiring fear and causing "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants." This week, one of two court filings from "God" came to the Douglas County District Court in Omaha. God claims to have an alibi, saying he couldn't have done all the stuff he's accused of by the legislator because he was too busy responding to prayers of athletes requesting help in football games and 14-year-olds taking algebra tests.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: The story of Odysseus Bob

This is for you college students out there who may have to read Homer's "The Odyssey" for the first time this year. I'm here to help. Having taken English 201 three times in college, I'm an expert.

I have written an easy-to-understand version of "The Odyssey." Better than Cliffs Notes, it's Chris Notes:

There once was this fellow, Odysseus Bob, who was a real hot shot in his hometown, but he got lost for 20 years on Lake Eufaula after taking off for the weekend with his buddies.
It turns out that he spent years shacking up with this girl Calypso Lou while his boy, Telemachus Joe, was taking care of Odysseus Bob's doublewide, mowing the grass and all. Telemachus Joe couldn't wait for his pa to come home because these drunk rednecks kept hanging out at the doublewide, hitting on his mama, Penelope Sue, and watching wrasslin' and "Jerry Springer" on Odysseus Bob's satellite dish. But Penelope Sue kept hoping her common-law husband would come back someday.

A lot of bad stuff happened to Odysseus Bob around Lake Eufaula. Like there was this one time a one-eyed hillbilly trapped Odysseus Bob and his buddies. Well, when the hillbilly — Larry Polyphemus — asked his name, Odysseus Bob replied, "I ain't nobody."

Then one night Odysseus Bob jabbed Larry Polyphemus in his one good eye with a broken beer bottle and blinded him. Larry Polyphemus ran and told his brothers, "Ain't Nobody done blinded me." They just laughed and laughed and went back to watching their bug zapper.

Then this guy, Aeolus Jim, gave Odysseus Bob a bag of wind and told him not to open it just yet. But his buddies thought Odysseus Bob was hiding some treasure in there like an RC and some pork skins. They opened it and the wind blew them into the back yard of a witch named Circe Mae who turned his buddies into hogs. Odysseus Bob then threatened to beat up Circe Mae if she didn't turn them back into men — which she did, except for Bubba, whom they barbecued.

Then they went by this old shack where the Sirens lived — Jolene, Irene and Irmalene Siren. They sang pretty songs men just couldn't resist. His buddies put in earplugs, while Odysseus Bob tied himself up so that he could hear the Sirens, but could not stop the boat and yield to temptation when they sang Loretta Lynn's "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' With Lovin' on Your Mind."

After some big dude named Hey Zeus slapped Odysseus Bob's Basstracker with a stick of dynamite, killing all his buddies, he washed up on a sand bar called Ogygia where he borrowed a fancy new Jet Ski and went home disguised as an old man by wearing knee-high black dress socks and polka-dot shorts pulled up to his armpits.

Penelope Sue then said that whoever cranks Odysseus Bob's old pickup can marry her, knowing that nobody but he could crank it. He hopped in, tapped the gas pedal a few times, banged on the dashboard and jiggled the key until it cranked. They knew Odysseus Bob had finally come home. He then grabbed a tire tool out of the back and opened up a can of whup-ass on the rednecks.

Then Odysseus Bob kissed Penelope Sue right smack on the mouth and they lived happily ever after.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I was heading south on Veterans Parkway (note, advertisers, that it's not Veteran's Parkway ... there's more than one veteran in this town) with my 7-year-old son in the backseat yesterday when we were sideswiped, hard, by a white pickup truck. OK, accidents happen. Probably a cell phone issue. Um, no.

The white pickup then hopped the curb and proceeded to travel through a stand of small pines across from Lowes about 80 yards until it came to a sudden halt against a bank upon which railroad tracks lie. Problem was, the truck went so far into the pines that you couldn't even see it from the road. I had no idea where it had gone.

A couple of fellows stopped on Veterans and followed the truck's path on foot. I, thinking it was a hit-and-run and that the driver was trying to find some way of getting out of there quickly, went to head them off at the pass at Whittlesey. The truck never emerged. So I, with my 7-year-old Dodger right behind me, headed into the pines until I found the driver acting as if it were a pretty typical situation there with her truck's front end against the railroad tracks and its tail end sticking up.

She was busted up in the face a little, but no big deal. However, she was loopy. My first thought was that she was incredibly high on drugs, and I'm still not convinced she wasn't. The engine was still running, but smoking, so I begged her to shut off the ignition, but she just kind of nonchalantly waved me off.

"I'll just back up," she said as if she'd merely had a little trouble parallel parking.

"Say what?!"

"I'll just back it up."

Whatever, I stepped away and called 911 while she proceeded to blow her engine up. Folks started to see smoke rising from the tracks behind the trees and began to wonder what the heck was going on.

When the fire truck, EMTs and cops got there, it wasn't too easy to explain where the truck was. It's not often you respond to a minor fender bender and the offending vehicle has disappeared. They looked at me a bit strange when I pointed to the large field to explain where the truck was. Finally, they saw the smoke.

As they hurried toward the truck, I warned them this person was high as a kite, in my humble opinion. They eventually got her to safety, and the police officer cited the accident as her fault. My truck's a little scratched up, but no big deal. But they didn't cite drugs or cell phones or anything else as the reason for the accident. They accepted the driver's explanation:

"I sneezed."

Allow me to use my Dr. Evil voice here: "Yeah, r-i-g-h-t."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Week in review

  • Burger King announces an effort to make healthier kids meals. The new meals will come with only a toy and no Burger King food.
  • Mitt Romney tells voters that his wife would make "a prettier first lady" than Bill Clinton. He goes on to say that his wife is also a better kisser than Bill Clinton.
  • President Bush's report to Congress grades Iraq as showing satisfactory progress on nine of the 18 benchmarks set for the Iraqi government. Bush also notes that the term "satisfactory" doesn't necessarily mean satisfactory but "trending toward satisfactory." Kinda puts the whole depending on what your definition of "is" is issue in perspective.
  • The title of the new Indiana Jones movie is revealed. "Indiana Jones and the Escape from the Oak Hill Nursing Home" is slated for release May 22, 2008.
  • More than 190 anti-war protesters are arrested in Washington. While we haven't quite put forth the effort it takes to capture bin Laden, thank God we've still got the determination to go after those seeking peace.
  • Three people who mixed vinegar with catfish bait and tried to sell it as heroin have been arrested. Authorities said the three also tried to sell fake LSD. It's part of America's effort to expand the misguided war on drugs also to those who are not selling drugs.
  • In a related story, the Partnership for a Less Drugged Up America releases ads encouraging kids to "Just say no to fake drugs."
  • Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run ball is actioned off for $752,467, or enough to buy Bonds enough human growth hormone for a whole year!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Recurring theme

Actually, two recurring themes here: My co-workers giving me a hard time and my total lack of concern for fashion.

My friend and co-worker Lisa slammed me this week for wearing an Aeropostale T-shirt to work. Not because it's against our dress code to wear such logo T-shirts (because she and everyone else knows that such silly rules don't interest me). No, it was because she said I'm too old to wear Aeropstale. I'm 37. However, I say as long as I'm getting in shape and can fit into clothes designed for teens, then, by golly, I'm gonna do it.

She's not the first co-worker to suggest I need to grow up. Ironically, it's always the ones at least 10 years younger than me who say that. No one older than me has suggested it, though they very well may have thought it. Of course, a lot of the young folks who've often suggested I grow up (such as my former co-worker Erin, who's now in Fort Myers) seem to think that you should graduate high school, then college, get married, have kids, retire and die. Preferably as soon as possible.

I disagree. And, at 37, I don't see much need in any more growing up. Who's the bigger fool: The fool who grows old or the fool who refuses? Put me in the latter category, right or wrong.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Health Coverage Changes

First of all, I'd like to thank you for gathering today in the Dead White Guys Memorial Conference Room for this very important meeting.

Today we're going to discuss changes in the company's health insurance plan. I use the term "changes" in much the same way the company uses the term "efficiency," which doesn't sound all that evil but actually means "ways to make your life more miserable at a faster pace."

In 2005, you will still be able to choose the traditional plan or the green plan, but in our continuing effort to give you more choices we've added the chartreuse plan — or as the provider refers to it, the I-Wouldn't-Get-Sick-If-I-Were-You plan.

Before we continue, I'll present this line chart to show how health costs have affected our company. This sharp-rising blue line shows how much more it's been costing us to insure you peons. This plummeting red line represents the services covered. This stagnant green line shows how much we actually care.

Now, I assure you the company understands the health insurance crisis. Why just yesterday CEO Wink Finklemeyer III expressed great dismay that massage therapy, for instance, is no longer covered under the My-Granddaddy-Founded-This-Here-Company Plan. He has had to pay from his own pockets for the services of Trixie's Magic-Handed Geishas ever since that traffic accident in which he was thrown from the limousine's hot tub.

Well, as you can see, under the traditional plan, you'll still be able to choose any doctor and pay just 20 percent for any medical services with no deductible. All you have to do to get the traditional plan is pay this monthly amount here, which as you see you couldn't afford even if you were Mr. Finklemeyer's illegitimate child. Oops, sorry Jim. Didn't know you were in here.

Under the green plan, there is a mere $20 co-pay once you meet the $40,000 deductible. Granted, some medical conditions aren't covered — such as heart attacks, diseases, accidents, infections or anything that causes coughing, rashes, fever, sneezing, or sickness in general. However, on a positive note, you can see there's no longer a deductible or co-pay if you're hit in the head by a Death Comet.

Would it kill you people to show a little appreciation?! It's not like we have to provide Death Comet coverage! Anyway, moving on. You'll notice the chartreuse plan is much cheaper, but any services must be provided within network, meaning either Dr. Ralph Fingersticker or Jim Bob's Family Doctorin' and Transmission Service.

Yes, Judy? Ah, that's a good question. Did everyone in the back hear that? Judy asked if we knew that Dr. Fingersticker died in 1935. The answer is yes, but he's the only doctor in town who's charges are "reasonable and customary."

By the way, the vision plan has not changed. The basic yearly exam ("How many fingers am I holding up?") is still absolutely free.

Thanks for coming. And if there are any supervisors in here today, please sign up on your way out for next week's seminar — "Motivating Your Peons More Efficiently."

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Week in Review 22

  • Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) indicates he's reconsidering his decision to resign from the Senate on the heels of a conviction related to a solicitation charge in a public bathroom. Craig indicates his intentions by sitting in front of the chamber and tapping his right foot while putting his left foot on that of Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid.
  • 63-year-old adventurer Steve Fossett goes missing after taking off in a single-plane for what was supposed to be a three-hour tour. Also on board were a professor, a rich couple, a red-headed movie star, an overweight Navy veteran, a pot-smoking hippie in a cango, and some Midwest cutie named Mary Ann.
  • Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina Teen USA, continues to defend her rambling answer to a question at the Miss Teen USA pageant by telling Blawg Wild: "When in the course of human events for the sake of peace in South Africa, I should not have reservations about the quality of judgmentalism at the height of the Cold War activism for pursuit of animal rights and the qualities therein and hereafter and therefore and stuff like that, you know."
  • Disney's "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens, 18, apologizes for a privately taken nude photo making the rounds on the Internet. Millions of males with Internet access accept her apology.
  • Columbus Ledger-Enquirer columnist Chris Johnson apologizes for nude pics that keep appearing at Millions of men and women who accidentally stumble across the photo sue for emotional trauma.
  • A new video from Osama bin Laden appears. U.S. government officials confirm the authenticity of the video featuring the lanky bearded Al-Qaida nut shooting bottle rockets from his rear end.
  • U.S. officials, who had nearly captured bin Laden before getting sidetracked in Iraq, believe the video is helping them close in once again on the terrorist. Particularly revealing in the video is when bin Laden disappears from the video for 20 seconds but is overheard saying, "Yes, did you want that Slurpee cherry or blue raspberry?"
  • America is aghast when a can opener becomes the first product imported from China that is not deadly, has instructions that make sense and doesn't fall apart in 15 minutes. The U.S. government vows it won't happen again.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

This is your brain on ...

My colleague Jenny Chandler, with whom I've worked for over 10 years here in Columbus, looked at me strange yesterday as I was running proofs back and forth to production. People looking at me strange is hardly an unusual occurrence. But she said, "You always look like you've got something cooking in that head of yours."

Do you think this is her way of telling me my brain is fried?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Buffalo Burgers

Another one from the '90s:

I recently read that the federal government is buying millions of pounds of bison meat (that's buffalo to you uncultured folks) to use for making hamburgers in our nation's school cafeterias.

I knew buffalo were still roaming America because I've eaten their wings at several area restaurants. (It's no wonder those big ol' animals can't fly.) But I had no idea that schools were using real meat these days.

Maybe it was because I went to school in an area so poor (we all got free lunches) that we were served those meatless mushy soybean-fungus burgers. If they had used real meat when I was in high school, I wouldn't have ditched school lunch every other day to eat at a cheap back-alley burger joint in downtown Montezuma.

Even though I returned before the next class began, my principal warned me there would be repercussions for leaving the school grounds to go to Troy's Snack Shack (even though I had a permission slip). What were they going to do? Give me an F in lunch? Or — heaven forbid — put it on my permanent record?

(Editor's note: For more information, please refer to Chris Johnson's Permanent Record, now available online at It's right after the part about his writing "Bocephus rules!" in his 10th-grade English book.)

I'd have probably had perfect attendance at lunch if I could have got a big ol' buffalo burger. But school lunch just didn't cut it.

I remember my first school lunch back in the first grade. I thought it was a pick-and-choose cafeteria deal like Piccadilly's or Morrison's. I was saying things like, "I'll have the mashed taters, please. No cole slaw, please. Is the fried chicken included in the Super Dilly?" But they just slapped whatever they felt like on my plate. Plop! Cole slaw.

I loved eating, but school lunches were too small in those pre-buffalo days. Who in the world eats one slice of pizza? I wanted the whole pizza and breadsticks. And they put gravy on everything. Gravy on mashed taters is great, but not on vanilla ice cream. And milk? Yuck! Who eats pizza and washes it down with milk? Everybody knows you serve beer with pizza.

Another school lunch problem is the seating arrangements. I never knew where to sit. They should have posted signs above each table such as Jocks, Nerds, Cool Kids, Geeks, Young Republicans or Metallica Fans. I could have walked to the correct table every time if I'd have seen a big, flashing sign that said: Boys With Ugly Cars And No Date For Friday Night.

I must confess, though, that I loved school lunch my freshman year. Our cafeteria burned down, and we had to eat in the school gym — even as the P.E. classes went on below us. It was fun to boo and laugh at the students and bet pickles on who'd win the basketball games. But it was dang near impossible to concentrate on eating a taco when Jenny Jerome was playing volleyball.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Week in review 21

  • Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, resigns over the fallout from his June 11 arrest for allegedly soliciting gay sex in an airport restroom. The police report noted that he began getting the undercover officer's attention in the next stall by tapping his foot, which is apparently a signal that you want gay sex in a bathroom. Millions of American men (including this one) vow to never have a tune in their heads in the bathroom that could lead to inadvertent foot-tapping.
  • According to the arrest report, in addition to the foot-tapping, Craig also put his foot on the foot of the officer in the next stall and waved his hand under the stall. Again, in a men's public restroom, this is an apparent request for sex. Then again, as my wife pointed out, in a women's restroom, it merely means your stall is out of toilet paper.
  • Despite having pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, Craig repeatedly claims his innocence and keeps insisting he is not gay -- an allegation that's followed him since the early 1980s. Indeed, most straight men have to keep announcing "I am not gay," you know, real straight guys like Clay Aiken, Ricky Martin, Liberace and Michael Jackson.
  • A Viennese pathologist claims a physician inadvertently overdosed Beethoven with lead in a case of a cure that went wrong. What a shame, because that St. Bernard made some really cute movies.
  • Dead "Queen of Mean" Leona Helmsley left $12 million to her dog, "Trouble," but not a cent to two of her grandchildren. Trouble, by the way, once bit one of the Helmsley housekeepers, proving that dogs indeed take on the personality of their owners.
  • Mississippi, long plagued by rankings that put its educational system at or near the bottom of state rankings, can finally claim a spot at the top of rankings as it comes in No. 1 for the highest obesity rates in the nation. It becomes the first state with over 30 percent of its population "obese." Mississippi then announces its new state motto: "We may be dumb, but we're fat."
  • Greece fires worsen when someone throws water on the nation instead of sand.
  • At a press conference to announce his resignation from President Bush's Cabinet, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales can't recall whether or not he resigned. Told that the reason for the press conference was to announce his resignation, Gonzales replies, "No comment."
  • "Comedian" Andy Dick allegedly makes inappropriate comments while on stage, gropes patrons, takes women into the men's room and urinates on the floor and on at least one person during a show at the Funny Bone Comedy Club in Columbus, Ohio. All is forgiven when Dick explains that he wasn't trying to be funny; he was preparing to run for a congressional seat.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Waaay-back Wednesday: Adventures in Insomnia

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'll be posting old columns once a week for a while. Here's one from last millennium.

Adventures in insomnia

Lately, I've been suffering from insomnia. And I mean "lately" as in since I was about three and couldn't sleep because I was worried about what was gonna happen to Brer Rabbit in the next bedtime story.

And you normal people miss so many wonderful things by going to bed early at night. To illustrate what you're missing, here's a moment-by-moment account of my night on Thursday.

12:31 a.m. — Get home from work. Close garage door. Check for Boogey Man in storage room.

12:32 — Thank God there is no Boogey Man in storage room.

12:33 — Make supper: 12 stale saltine crackers, a jar of olives and meat in bowl found in bottom of refrigerator (Could be taco meat. Or maybe chili). Scrape green, fuzzy stuff off discovered meat.

12:38 — Put olive on ceiling fan blade. Cut on ceiling fan. Run around living room in circle. Catch olive in mouth. Bow to imaginary audience.

12:39 — Realize ceiling fan blades really need dusting.

12:45 — Pick up guitar and sing "Margaritaville."

12:47 — Tell sleepy wife when she stumbles into the living room, "No, I don't hear anything that sounds like a hound dog run over by a garbage truck."

12:48 — See what's on TV.

12:50 — Flip through those 63 channels one more time just in case I missed something important. Stop on MTV. Pray for future of universe.

12:57 — Cut on computer and check e-mail. Learn how to be my own boss and earn $1,000 a day selling state-of-the-art toothpicks from the comfort of my own home. Check fantasy baseball statistics, see that I have firm grip on last place. Check stocks and mutual funds, make alternate plans for retirement.

1:01 — Put in subliminal tape to help me sleep.

1:11 — Tell myself, "I am a strong woman." Realize this is wrong subliminal tape.

1:28 — Flex muscles in front of bathroom mirror. Ask reflection, "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?"

1:55 — Deep thoughts: If Elvis really staged his death, why would he have done it by dying on the toilet?

2:18 — Notice frog hopping on patio. Wonder what would happen to a frog in a microwave.

2:30 — Finish cleaning microwave.

2:36 — Call telemarketer at home and tell her I've reconsidered. I would indeed like to know more about how I could save on all my long distance calls.

2:41 — Make note to self: Tell folks frog-in-microwave item was just a joke to avoid getting hate mail from angry amphibian lovers.

2:45 — Drive down street to home of teenie bopper with loud car stereo and one rap CD. Play Ernest Tubb song at 150 decibels.

2:56 — Enter Waffle House. Ask for nonsmoking section.

3:35 — Tell drunk man at Waffle House, "I'd really like to hear more about your alien abduction, but it's getting late."

3:42 — "Really, I must be going."

3:47 — "Look! It's E.T.!" Run like the wind.

4:15 — Crawl into bed. Warm cold feet on wife.

4:16 — Check in bathroom mirror to see if nose is broken.

4:17 — Strike Incredible Hulk pose again to see if muscles grew in last three hours.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Coming this Wednesday

It's waaaay back Wednesdays at Blawg Wild. Every Wednesday, check Blawg Wild for one of my newspaper columns from the waaaay-back machine.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Week In Review 20

  • Atlanta Falcons quarterback, or former quarterback, Michael Vick admits being part of a dogfighting ring. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspends Vick indefinitely and hits him several times in the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.
  • Real estate magnate Leona Helmsley -- reviled by many as the "queen of mean" and who allegedly once said "only little people pay taxes" (infuriating Danny DeVito among others -- dies at age 87. The funeral is expected to draw several people, if only to make sure she's dead.
  • A new study shows Americans popping twice as many painkiller pills as they did in 1997. However, further studies reveal that the number's about the same when Rush Limbaugh is taken out of the equation.
  • West Virginia University tops the Princeton Review's annual list of the nation's top party schools. The surprise No. 2 is Little Critters Day Care, where they play a mean game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.
  • Egyptian archaeologists have found what they said could be the oldest human footprint in history, about 2 million years old, in the country's western desert. Those who believe the Earth is only 5,000 years old are skeptical of the finding, especially because of the "Swoosh" in the middle of the footprint.
  • Dalton Carriker hits a home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Warner Robins, Ga., the Little League World Championship over Japan. Carriker said he said a little prayer before stepping into the batter's box for God to help him get a hit to help his team out ... proving once and for all that God hates 12-year-old Japanese kids.
  • NASA announces its plan for a temporary fix to stop potentially dangerous chunks of foam insulation and ice from breaking off the fuel tank during space shuttle liftoffs. NASA doesn't get into specifics, but acknowledges it involves somebody named Earl and 47 rolls of heat duct tape.
  • Monday, August 20, 2007

    An Angel City wedding

    I usually hate weddings. The formality. The pretentiousness. The stress. The uncomfortable clothes. The chick food. The non-alcoholic punch in the church reception hall. Somebody's Aunt Gladys pinching my cheeks. Yeah, those cheeks!

    But I went to a wedding Saturday that was different from any I'd been to before, and not just because it was 145 degrees with 110 percent humidity. My cousin Shane got hitched in Angel City, a bikers' haven in Unadilla. It looks like a Wild West town, except that the horses can go 120 mph and rattle windows when they get riled up. The wedding party had rented out Angel City for the whole weekend. Angel City is usually open only for motorcycle rallies, which are becoming more frequent.

    The groom and about 20 other bikers, including the biker preacher, came roaring up to the altar Saturday night to the tune of AC/DC's "Hell's Bells." (When was the last time a little old lady on the church organ pounded out that tune at a wedding?) And any preacher who'll officiate a wedding that includes the song "Hell's Bells" is cool with me. Of course, the bride, Pam, walked to the altar to the tune of Kenny G's "Songbird," which I kinda like too. Hey, I like rock, smooth jazz and rowdy country, among other things. My musical taste is as eclectic as was this wedding.

    Poor Pam was the only one dressed in uncomfortable clothes for this wedding. Perhaps that's why she was prettier than the rest of us, not that she had a lot of competition from folks like me in my khaki shorts and golf shirt. I was overdressed.

    Actually, other than the motorcycles, AC/DC, Port-o-Potties, motorcycles and kids running through the swinging doors of saloons, it was a pretty standard wedding. I chatted with a lot of folks during and after the wedding, and a lot of folks just came to witness the unique spectacle. Ain't that a switch! Most folks go to weddings out of obligation. A lot of folks at this wedding actually wanted to be there. What a concept! A fun wedding! Everybody loved it. And most noted how it seemed like a traditional wedding ... what with all the prayin', procession, ring bearin', the standard reception food, the first dance, the father-daughter dance, the mother-son dance.

    But the best part, as with anything back home, is being with "my people." Small-town folks. Nobody putting on airs. Everybody glad to see everybody. No rude humans. And it's not just because Rule No. 8 in Angel City's town ordinances is "no attitudes." No one broke No. 2 "no fighting" and not even No. 4 "no nudity," although it was so hot it didn't seem like such a bad idea. I didn't want to give somebody's Aunt Gladys any ideas, though.

    There was a lot of family I hadn't seen in a long time. Heck, I hadn't seen Shane in nearly 20 years, when we weren't too far from tramping around Ideal, Ga., playing "The Dukes of Hazzard." He was Bo, and I was Luke. I'd talked to the real Bo Duke, John Schneider, more recently than I had Shane. They've both turned out well.

    There were a good many folks I didn't recognize, even after they introduced themselves with the always aggravating, "You remember me?"

    "Uh, uh, er, I'm not sure," I respond, or something like that.

    "Fred. Fred Jenkins," or something like that they respond.

    "Oh yeah. I knew that. You were one of those Jenkinses."


    But I knew most of the old friends, although it would have helped if I'd have had my high school yearbook with me. I chatted with Cleveland and asked how his daddy's breakfast operation was going. The last time I saw his dad, he told me "the only problem is sometimes we get the orders a little wrong, but I tell 'em you just eat whatever I put in the bag because whatever I put in that bag is good." I guess his daddy's embraced that style of service because Cleveland said he had a sign that read: "Order what you want, eat what you get." I don't know if you can operate very long like that in Columbus, but he's been in business a couple of decades now.

    My wife was glad that I didn't bump into any of my old girlfriends. It seems like every time we've been to Macon County or Americus since 1990 or so, we'd bump into some old flame. That really wasn't that hard to do. I didn't date hardly anyone more than two weeks. It's not that I was a playboy. Far from it. Ladies, look at me: Would you go out on a second date with this guy? I didn't think so.

    I introduced myself to Mary Ellen. I hadn't spoken to her since, well, ever. She was a smokin' hot senior cheerleader and I was a freshman dork nearly 20 years ago. I knew my limitations. (I don't now, but I did then.) Talking to her could have gotten me run out of Macon County High School. She said she remembered me. I almost choked on my cocktail weenie. Man, I bet she'd lie about other stuff, too. At least I'm not a freshman dork anymore. I'm a 37-year-old dork now, by golly.

    I chatted with the preacher in the Angel City Saloon after the ceremony and asked him about the dichotomy of officiating a "Hell's Bells" motorcycle wedding. He asked me, "Where would Jesus be?" It wasn't a rhetorical question. He wanted an answer.

    "Um, here?"

    "Exactly." He had a good point. I just can't fathom Jesus in a three-piece suit. I don't recall any "Sermon in the Saloon" either, but I agree that Jesus would likely be out there with the "one-percenters." The biker preacher was a great guy, and it was nice to see a Christian who's not the least bit judgmental. He said he was saved in 1986 and the Lord told him to get off his bike. Ten years later, the Lord told him to get back on the bike and spread the Gospel.

    I chatted with Wayne, the co-founder of Angel City. They've got a slew of musical acts coming, and hopefully sometime next year they'll have city sewer service and the Port-O-Potties can hit the road. He encouraged me to come back, whether I've got a motorcycle or not. Maybe I can borrow my co-worker Brad's scooter. You can find out more about Angel City here.

    I know a lot of folks with sticks lodged in unfortunate places of the body who would have felt terribly out of place on Saturday night. I never really felt like I fit in back home, nor have I ever felt like I fit in anywhere. Guess that's the price of being an anti-social loner. But I know this: I was damn homesick when I left Unadilla (and then the Huddle House in Montezuma.) I guess my wife summed it up best:

    "Why does it seem like everybody's so much happier when we go to small towns?"

    Maybe small town folks have got it all figured out. One thing I've learned for certain over the years, the bigger things get, the stupider they get: Government, colleges, businesses, corporations, cities, Rosie O'Donnell. I reckon we've been out of the small town too long. Maybe we could shrink Columbus. It would be nice. Politicians and business leaders embrace "growth" at all costs, even under the guise of "smart growth" and other such oxymorons.

    I also know that the bar has been raised for the next wedding I choose to attend or get dragged to. And to Shane and Pam, here's hoping the rest of your life together has as much style as your wedding night.


    Note, here are a couple of shaky videos of the groom arriving for the ceremony and one of the happy couple (And check out the photos in the following post):

    Sunday, August 19, 2007


    Here are a few photos from Shane's wedding, mentioned in the above post ...

    Angel City is in the Unadilla city limits, believe it or not

    Shane and I, about an hour before he lost his freedom.

    In case you were wondering, that drink in my hand has zero alcohol.

    Aunt Clarice, Mom and the wife. The spots on the camera are from the misters. (It was hot.)

    I told Uncle Gary, Shane's daddy, to act natural.

    The stage is set.

    The groom has arrived. The bearded man is the biker preacher.

    You can't have a wedding without cute kids.

    Here comes the bride, Pam.

    It's not often you can watch a wedding from the vehicle that brought you there.

    The bride's cake.

    The groom's cake. I had a slice. It was good.

    Keep your horses outside the saloon.

    After the wedding: The wife, left, meets Laurie, my second grade classmate, and Mary Ellen, who was a senior cheerleader when I was a freshman. She finally talked to me Saturday. She said she remembered me. She may lie about other stuff too.

    I think this little feller had enough wedding fun for one day.

    Week in review 19

    • Dumb Crook Alert: A Wilcox County, Ga., woman was arrested after she called local police to help ‘‘get her money back’’ after she was unhappy with the crack cocaine she purchased. Man, what's this world coming to when you can't even trust a good ol' South Georgia crack dealer?!
    • President Bush's "brain", Karl Rove, resigns. Rove says he needed a bigger job than Bush's brain.
    • Hall-of-Fame shortstop and New York Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto dies at 89. "Heaven must have needed a shortstop," says Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Don't worry, George, I'm sure if heaven needs a greedy pompous ass, they'll call you.
    • The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummets 14,762,971 points, meaning everyone with a 401K will have to pay $45 a month for the joy of being retired.
    • A West Virginia man is suing McDonald's for $10 million after biting into a Quarter Pounder, only to find it had cheese, which he had requested not be on it because he is severely allergic to it. Of course, he didn't notice it had cheese because he waiting until he got home to eat it in a darkened room. At no time did he smell the cheese, nor check to make sure it had no cheese. Because, you know, it's not like a fast-food restaurant ever messed up an order or anything.
    • In a related story, Chris Johnson files suit against newspapers in Americus, Valdosta and Columbus, noting that he is severely allergic to work.
    • In a related related story, newspapers in Americus, Valdosta and Columbus file a countersuit against Chris Johnson, claiming "What work??"
    • As usual, Princeton tops U.S. News & World Report's annual college rankings. Jim Bob Jenkins' Transmission School comes in at a surprising No. 5, just ahead a Essie Mae Banks' Hair-Cuttin' School.

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    I'm going to Angel City

    No, that's not some euphemism for dying. Angel City is a Wild West-style motorcycle crazy town in Unadilla, Ga., not far from my hometown of Oglethorpe and my old stomping grounds of Americus. And, yes, I still hate the sounds of motorcycles. But this is their turf, and I'm OK with that. Rev 'em up and make all the noise you want guys and gals. Just don't do it by my house.

    Why am I going? My cousin, Shane, is getting married ... or I guess I should say "hitched" since he's getting married in an Angel City saloon with music, drinking and dancing afterward. My wife's worried about dressing down for this event. She doesn't want to appear too casual. "It's a Dixon wedding," I told her. "Shane's wearing jeans, and his bride's rolling in on a Harley."
    While my Dad's side of the family goes to church on Sunday mornings and has prim and proper wedding performed by preachers in churches, my Mom's side of the family sleeps in on Sunday until the Falcons game comes on and gets married in saloons and clubs where the brides enter on Harleys or in Corvettes.
    I'll be sure to report on Saturday night's events. There are numerous events that happen in Angel City that draw thousands, but this shouldn't be a busy weekend there, so it should look nothing like the photo of Angel City above. Still, I'll be sure to post plenty of notes and photos and happenings from Angel City.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Saggy bottom boys

    Columbus Council is currently considering whether to ban the act of "bustin' a sag" -- when young folks make a statement (I'm stooopid) by wearing their jeans waaaay below their waists. Let me say for the record I'm no fan of this style, although I think any thugs "bustin' a sag" who get busted by the cops for any crimes are gonna have a hard time running from the police. Also, I think it helps me identify the stupid. I know that I probably don't need to ask these fools any question more complicated than "Hot enuf for ya?" Keeps me from making a mistake such as asking them for directions.

    However, I don't think men who wear sportscoats when it's 100 degrees have any right to decide how other folks ought to dress. You tell me which is more stupid -- showing your drawers or wearing a coat during the summer? I vote for the latter. Anyone who wears a coat, long pants and a constricting tie in the dog days of summer ain't got a whole lot of credibility with me. It sets a terrible example for youth. "It's 100 degrees, grab your coat! And wear this neck decorator, uh, I mean tie. Don't want that head falling off."
    And really, do we need another unenforced ordinance on the books? You're already free to toss your cigarette butts on the street (sometimes right in front of police), play your stereo at window-rattling levels and rev your motorcycle as loud as it takes for you to get the attention you so crave and then ride it 110 mph without repercussion.