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.

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    Good girl!

    Some girls are prettier than others, but if you've been beaten with the ugly stick, never fear: You can still be a success.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    Week in review 18

    • Everything ever made in China is recalled, leaving Americans naked and hungry, and with nothing to play with.
    • Entertainer and entrepreneur Merv Griffin dies at 82, not long after reports surface that his life was in Jeopardy.
    • The Republicans conduct a straw poll in Iowa. Preliminary results show Mitt Romney likes the bendy kinds, while Mike Huckabee likes pine.
    • Temperatures hit triple digits across Georgia, proving yet again the genius of starting schools in early August.
    • Sending a teacher into space backfires for NASA when a serious gash in Endeavour's thermal shield is discovered, and Barbara Morgan insists every astronaut is going to stay in orbit until one admits to making the gash in the shield.
    • Two African fossils discovered by renowned paleontologist Maeve Leakey have thrown a monkey wrench into the concept of the human family tree. The fossils suggest that two of man's ancestors lived side by side -- instead of the long-running theory that one of those species evolved into the other, and that led to humans. However, scientists do note that while they lived side-by-side, they built a very large privacy fence between each other.
    • Paris Hilton says that her famous-for-being-famous pal Nicole Richie will be the best mom ever. In addition, she'll also be the first mom to be outweighed by her newborn.
    • Yet another study shows the "Baby Einstein" video series is worthless, and actually may delay language development in toddlers. Even worse, "Baby Einstein" viewers had terrible, terrible hair by age 7.
    • In a related story, Nicole Richie says she'll still use the "Baby Einstein" series with her child, just as soon as she's through watching them all.

    Bear beats gnats

    I live a couple of miles above the Fall Line, so gnats don't bother me at home a lot these days. They still haven't figured out how to fly over the Line. However, I still spend a lot of time below the Fall Line, or "Gnat Line" as folks in South Georgia.

    But I thought I'd pass along sure-fire tip No. 347 for how to keep gnats from bothering you: Put a Snuggle dryer sheet under your cap. My Dad tried this recently and swears it works like a charm. Then again, this is the same man who once told me I'd use algebra every day of my life, so he might lie about other stuff, too. I don't know whether this supposedly works with other brands, but I say stick to Snuggle. Not only will you be gnat-free, but you'll seem a lot more cuddly.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2007

    Bashing Bonds

    So Barry Bonds has finally passed one of my heroes, Hank Aaron, as Major League Baseball's home run king. There are about 150 million people bashing the cheater in America right now, but one voice definitely stands out to me: Dale Murphy.

    In case you don't know the guy, he's the two-time National League MVP who carried the Atlanta Braves through the 1980s. Beyond the 398 career home runs and MVPs, the man deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Not only is he one of the classiest guys to ever play the game, but imagine what the Braves would have been like without Murphy in the 1980s. It's a shame that Barry Bonds will probably enter the Hall of Fame before Murph (although I'm certain the Veterans Committee will put Murph in Cooperstown, even as numbers-obsessed writers pass on him.) On a Salt Lake City radio show Monday, Murphy said of Bonds:

    "He's deserved all the negative publicity that he's getting. ... You usually get what you deserve. This is what Barry deserves. He's a hard guy to like. He's a hard teammate to have and, you know, he's set a terrible example for our kids. ... The guy would have been one of the great ones anyway ... But now, he sucked the fun and the life right out of it. ... I mean, Hank would have hit 855 if he had the same advantage."

    Dale Murphy's a guy who took out a full-page ad in the Atlanta paper when he was traded to Philadelphia to thank fans for their support over the years. He was a milk-and-cookies guy, not a steroids guy. He wouldn't even come out of the showers until the female reporters left the locker room. I've been in these locker rooms with female reporters, and a lot of pro athletes make an extra effort to walk around the female reporters after hitting the showers. (They wouldn't grant me the same access to the Atlanta Falcons' cheerleaders' locker room -- which is blatant sexual discrimination, but that's beside the point, I guess.)

    By the way, also neither here nor there, my favorite Murphy story. Coming up as a catcher in the Braves' organization, Murph had a strong arm, maybe too strong. He kept overthrowing second base anytime they tried to steal. One particularly bad day when all his throws sailed way over second base, his dad comforted him by saying: "Don't worry, son, if they had tried to steal center field, you'd have had 'em every time."

    Also, I loved the headline in today's New York Post, below:

    Monday, August 6, 2007

    Used what?

    While riding with my son back from Valdosta's Wild Adventures on Sunday, I saw an unusual sign on the side of the road along Georgia Highway 133: "Used Cows For Sale." I've seen plenty of used cars for sale and I recently bought a refurbished laptop computer. But a used cow? Aren't all cows "used" in some way? How was it used? Was it used to make a hamburger or football? Or was it used to make ice cream?

    This was just one interesting sight on the stretch of 133 from Albany to Valdosta that I'll write about for Sunday's column. I'd still take I-75 to Valdosta if they'd ever finish repairing it. They've been rebuilding it between Adel and Valdosta almost as long as they've been rebuilding the Atlanta Hawks. But, until they get I-75 fixed, at least Highway 133 is a more scenic, if slightly eccentric route to Valdosta.

    Sunday, August 5, 2007

    Week in Review 17

    • The Atlanta Braves trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia and four minor leaguers to the Texas Rangers for first baseman Mark Teixeira and reliever Ron Mahay. Initially thought to be a trade to improve the Braves' chances for the postseason, it is instead revealed to be a cost-saving move in response to the rising expense of jersey letters.
    • In other baseball news, America lets out a deafening yawn as Barry Bonds ties Hank Aaron with his 755th career home run. The syringe credited for the home run is immediately delivered to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
    • Two deep-diving Russian mini-submarines descend more than 2 miles under North Pole ice to stake a flag on the ocean floor, part of a quest to bolster Russian claims to much of the Arctic’s oil-and-mineral wealth. Unfortunately for the Russians, they had a huge NASCAR fan driving the sub. He planted a No. 8 flag on the ocean floor, meaning that all oil-and-mineral wealth there now belongs to Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    • In more North Pole news, NASA announces it will send a spacecraft to the Martian north pole next month to study if the environment is favorable for primitive life. The three-legged Phoenix Mars Lander will be delivered by eight rocket-fueled flying reindeer.
    • Iraq’s parliament adjourns for the whole month of August without passing a series of U.S.-backed draft laws designed to promote national unity and stem support for the Sunni-led insurgency ... or the Shiite-led insurgency ... or the al-Qaida in Iraq-led insurgency ... or the Baghdad Moose Lodge-led insurgency ... or any of the above insurgencies.
    • The Iraqi parliament's most recent session was not without its successes, however. Well, one anyway. They voted to replace the Frito's Corn Chips with Tostitos Corn Chips in the parliament building's vending machine.
    • At their annual convention to celebrate the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's 50th year, leaders will honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., and the promise of Barack Obama, and they plan to honor and recognize Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, according to SCLC president Charles Steele. Because, really, what better way to invoke the nonviolent spirit of Martin Luther King than with images of mangled, beaten and electrocuted pit bulls?
    • In a GOP presidential candidates' debate Sunday, abortion and war dominate the discussion. But only Rep. Ron Paul supports aborting the war.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2007

    Braves trade

    The Atlanta Braves today traded a player who's name no one can spell for a player who's name no one can pronounce. Oh, well. Looks like a good deal to me, even though we're losing a Scrabble all-star in Saltalamacchia.