Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Unappreciative 'Companion'

I like Garrison Keillor, but it's obvious the guy just doesn't appreciate nice gifts.

This just in ...

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Garrison Keillor, host of public radio’s ‘‘A Prairie Home Companion,’’ has dropped a restraining order he had obtained against a fan after she agreed not to contact him again.

Keillor had accused Andrea Campbell, 43, of Hawkinsville, Ga., of stalking him by making unwanted visits and sending him bizarre gifts, including a petrified alligator’s foot, dead beetles and poems.

A hearing on Campbell’s appeal of the restraining order was canceled. It had been set for Monday.

‘‘The parties mutually agreed to dismiss based on Ms. Campbell’s commitment not to have further contact with Mr. Keillor,’’ said his attorney, Mary Stumo.

‘‘I guess he felt he couldn’t defend what he had put in the affidavit, and I guess he realized it was all just a big misunderstanding,’’ Campbell told the St. Paul Pioneer Press for a story to be published Tuesday.

Campbell said she ‘‘held a space of love and forgiveness and just let the universe work its magic, and I think his conscience got to him.’’

While she said she has no intention of contacting Keillor again, she told the newspaper she is working on a book about how she believes she and Keillor influenced each other’s creative processes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Great news!

A great headline from today's Washington Post ...

Asteroid to Miss Earth Tonight

Read the story by clicking here.

Apparently this 300-yard asteroid is going to miss us by 334,000 miles. That means I can go back to writing my Sunday column now. It'll be about Super Bowl Sunday. I'm rooting for the Giants. I like the way the Patriots play, but I think Belichick is a jerk. And I can't root for a jerk. And while I like Tom Brady, he's already got three Super Bowl rings and one of the world's most beautiful women. Time for the man to share the wealth.

By the way, I can't write about asteroids without thinking of the classic exchange from "National Lampoon's Vacation."
Rusty: Hey, ya' got Pac Man?
Cousin Dale: No.
Rusty: Ya' got Space Invaders?
Cousin Dale: Nope.
Rusty: Ya' got Asteroids?
Cousin Dale: Naw, but my dad does. Can't even sit on the toilet some days.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Vacation, All I Never Wanted ...

My first vacation of the year was actually a rollover week that I couldn't manage to fit into 2007. We went to Gatlinburg, which I was less than thrilled about beforehand and hated much more when I got there. The town had no charm, was too crowded, with too much traffic, too many tourist traps and too many people offering you free this and that to get you to hear time-share sales pitches. If you took everything you don't like about Panama City and chilled it down to 20 degrees, you've got Gatlinburg.

Oh, and pancakes are a big deal up there. One pancake house much have had 150 people lined up outside in 12-degree temperatures one morning just waiting on tables to clear. It would have taken them hours to get their pancakes. We're talking about pancakes. It's just food people.

The only reason we went was because we thought Saylor would have a chance to see snow. He saw snow flurries that Saturday. Of course, that same day it snowed over 2 inches at Pine Mountain, just a half-hour from our house.

And we got one last chance to get ripped off in Gatlinburg as we got hold of some bad gasoline at a station before leaving town. Fortunately, that watered-down gas lasted all the way through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all the way home. Watered-down gas gets good mileage apparently, despite the funny noises.

Fortunately, I was able to continue my vacation writing at a cabin back home. I also got to eat at the world's greatest restaurant, Troy's Snack Shack, and the Mennonite restaurant outside Montezuma. And when I wasn't eating, I was writing. So, the part of the vacation in Georgia was OK. I have no urge to travel north of LaGrange ever again. Or anywhere cold.

I can't say that it was the most relaxing vacation ever. But Saylor thinks Gatlinburg with its tourist traps and many ways to spend money is the next best thing to Heaven. Here he is in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which was beautiful.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Old school

This week's column will be about old school buildings. I realized what a shame it is that they tore down the old Macon County Elementary School in 1999. It was built in 1921. I'm sure they had their reasons, but still it's a shame. My son goes to a school for the gifted on Tuesdays that was built in 1930. It reminds me a lot of that old building back home. I also hate that the last house I lived in back home (built around 1900) is falling down. Thank goodness for the historic preservation folks around here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jenny, I got your number ...

It's been over 25 years since Tommy Tutone got Jenny's number off the wall and into my head. Now, I've got pin numbers at the bank, a dozen personal Internet passwords, 20 more passwords at work, and every year when it's time to renew my health insurance, I have to request my forgotten password. Yet, I'll never forget 867-5309, as I discovered when I heard that song for the first time in years this morning.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pharewell, Phil

My good friend and co-worker Philip Wartena is packing it up and heading back to California. Something to do with a chick, I understand. Phil's the most talented photographer with whom I've had the pleasure of working. We've also had a good time and a few adventures outside of work. He shares my philosophy that life ought to be fun and that 99.9 percent of people in the world are waaaaay too uptight. Happy trails, buddy.

Check out Phil's unbelievable work at his blog, The Visual Burn.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Geography lesson

Today at breakfast, my 7-year-old son Saylor was asking about which states I've been to:

"Ever been to Washington?"



"New Hamster?"

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Onion & Landover Baptist

For those of you who still grasp the concept of sarcasm, you need to visit the online sites of The Onion and Landover Baptist Church ("Unsaved unwelcome"), two of my favorite online sites. The Onion report on alleviating traffic congestion is awesome. Not all of this stuff is appropriate for kids, but the traffic congestion report definitely is.

Friday, January 4, 2008

I didn't know my son was THIS smart

I have a few books by Dr. Wayne Dyer, who's sort of a new age, let's all be happy spiritualist. One is called "Wisdom of the Ages" and has writings and sayings from some of the all-time great thinkers and philosophers including Buddha, Jesus, Omar Khayyam, Donne, Milton, Goethe, Gandhi, Thoreau and Emerson to name a few. Add to this great list my son, Saylor. I opened the book again today and on the title page it reads, of course, "Wisdom of the Ages." Under that, in ball-point pen ink, it reads, "By SAYLOR."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A shout out

Thanks to my friends Jamie and Mary Ellen Peaster (the dancer in the green sweater here) for inviting us to their New Year's Eve throwdown back home in Oglethorpe. They live about 100 feet from the haunted house in which I last lived in Oglethorpe. We had a blast!

Redneck street cred

You know how rappers actually add to their street cred by getting arrested? I added to mine last weekend by partying in an abandoned chicken house back home in Macon County with a few hundred folks who were there to celebrate Patrick Petroski's birthday and hear local band and friends Gravel Road. I'll write a little about the experience in this Sunday's column. Gravel Road is pictured here performing Saturday night. Jason McKinney, pictured at center, is an old friend and the lead singer. Scotty Layfield, a kid I've known for a long time and covered as a sports writer, is the drummer. I called the baseball coach at Valdosta State years ago and encouraged him to give Scotty a shot. Scotty excelled and made it all the way to AAA in the Cardinals organization before arm problems cut his promising career short. I think their music is more about having fun than becoming superstars, but that's a good thing.

OK, I'm back

I've been admonished by a few folks for sort of abandoning my blog lately, so I resolve to pay more attention to it in 2008. It is 2008 right? Expect more short notes and a little more personal stuff and very little of my writing craft here. Between my Friday night TV commentaries on WLTZ (click the link to see some) and my Sunday columns in the Ledger-Enquirer, my creativity's tapped out. Some might argue my creativity was tapped out long before. But there will be a lot more blogging here now, I promise. Of course, I also promised to give up caffeine in the new years (and a dozen previous new years), so take that for what it's worth.