Friday, March 28, 2008

No mo synchro

Shocking news to report out of Birmingham, Ala. The University of Alabama-Birmingham is dropping its synchronized swimming team. You can read the story here. The shocking part not being that they're dropping it, of course, but that they had one to begin with. Who knew?! Apparently, numerous NCAA schools compete in synchronized swimming -- numerous, if you consider eight NCAA schools numerous, and schools if you consider Canisius a school. I thought it was something on the periodic table of elements, right after Columbusite. Then again, I only paid attention in chemistry class periodically.

Of course, I can't think of synchronized swimming without seeing that SNL sketch with Martin Short, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest in the mid-1980s. You can watch a two-minute clip of that sketch here. It's hilarious. If you can find the sketch in full online, let me know.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cheetah's chase ends

Sad news to report: One of the four cheetahs at Albany's Parks at Chehaw has died. An inside source at the park tells me that just before he died, the cheetah told a keeper he was seeing spots.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ghost hunters update

Hot off the press: Here are three photos from Saturday night's ghost-hunting excursion supplied by ghost-hunting expert Rachel Peaster of Enterprise, Ala. Judge for yourself. Look closely at each photo. If you can't see a ghost by the third photo, you're just a no-fun skeptic!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Haunted house excursion

On Saturday night, while at a party for adults and kids in Oglethorpe, I mentioned to a couple of kids who hadn't heard my stories a million times that the house across the street was haunted. I know because I lived there from 1986-1991. The ghosts were members of my church (before they died ... a week apart from each other), so I didn't really have a problem with it. Nice ghosts are cool, though my wife doesn't agree after the one night she spent in the house back in 1993.

One of the kids, Rachel, daughter of a couple of my old schoolmates, was fascinated. Apparently, she has a thing for ghosts. Next thing I know, four teenagers (Rachel, Matt, Jordan and Shane) and my 8-year-old son, Saylor, have talked me into leading them through the falling-down house. None of the other adults (and I'm lumping myself in the "adult" age group, though it's debatable) were willing to go, including my wife. Having seen one of the ghosts, she was willing to go in daylight, but not at night.

Rachel promptly grabbed a Polaroid camera (apparently, they still exist) and whatever ghost-hunting equipment she could round up, and off we went. It was pretty uneventful ... except when blood started dripping from the ceiling and then these hounds of hell pounced out of a closet and a zombie tried to eat one of the kids. (Hmm, wait a minute: Were there four teenagers or five? Oh, what's the difference?)

Saylor, who is scared of neither ghosts nor teenagers (but should be of at least one of those groups), had the line of the night when I got tired of trying to scare the kids to death and decided to be the first one out of the house. I think he's been watching 1980s slasher movies behind my back because as I was leaving he said, "Dad! You can't leave teenagers alone in a haunted house!"

Indeed. They weren't far behind.

I'll probably write more about the excursion for this Sunday's Ledger-Enquirer. And if Rachel captured any orbs or anything else on film, I'll share them here. So, send them my way.

Below is a pic of a couple of the mothers who reluctantly let me lead their kids on the ghost hunt (Mary Ellen, left, and Jenny) after we returned and they counted their kids and were satisfied that any kids left behind weren't theirs.

Speaking of horror stories, both of these ladies would have shuddered in horror 23 years ago if they had their photo taken with me in those days. Would have killed their reputations. I, however, am gonna build a time machine and show this picture to 14-year-old freshman dork Chris Johnson in 1985.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Seeing red over green

Oh, common sense, why hast thou forsaken us?

I now know what those power-hungry, anal-retentive nerds who wanted to be the hall monitor when I was kid turned into as adults. They turned into folks like these at Midland Middle School, who sent an 11-year-old girl to in-school suspension because she, of all things, had light green streaks in her hair on, of all days, St. Patrick's Day. Apparently, this was against the RULES. Heaven forbid anyone bend the RULES on St. Patrick's Day.

You can read the Ledger-Enquirer story about the cute little green-haired troublemaker who struck fear into the hearts of former hall monitors and paranoid school officials by clicking here. Her photo should be on the Web page, as well. Wait til you see how dangerous this girl looks!

As someone who regularly broke the RULES in school and, quite frankly, still favors common sense when it trumps the RULES, I salute Taylor Hendrix. Keep dyeing your hair green until the gray-haired teachers stop dyeing their hair. And, please, please don't let a few folks lacking in common sense sap your spirit. If you're anything like I was, you just gotta smile at the silliness and roll with the punches. Don't give in to the nonsensical conformists, and you'll be a better person someday. Side with common sense, and you'll be just fine, Taylor.

Meanwhile, those same people who suspended you will be running around school going insane measuring to see if shorts are 3 inches from the knee or those are really No. 2 pencils.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A NASCAR improvement

I've decided I'll start watching NASCAR when money plays less of a role in determining winners. Only the big-money teams have a chance, much like in baseball. Big-money finances the best cars, best mechanics, best everything. Here's my plan to make NASCAR more interesting:

Let NASCAR divvy up the cars in a random drawing before the race. When the drivers are announced a few minutes before the race, officials will tell them, "OK, Tony, you're in the 43 car today. Jeff, head over there to the 14 car," and so on and so forth. I'd rather root for drivers, not cars. Let's see who's really best, not who simply has the best financial backing.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Round 'n' round we go

So I went to my first NASCAR race in Atlanta on Sunday. It was interesting to look around the place and see the sights before the race. And the first 15 or so laps were impressive as I soaked up the roars of the engines and felt the vibrations of the cars speeding past. However, the next 310 or so laps were just a bunch of guys going around and around and turning left.

Apparently, I picked a bad race for my first one. Even die-hard NASCAR fans were lulled to sleep. There wasn't much racing going on, and no wrecks. The drivers were having so much trouble with their tires that they were scared to race hard and were content to simply not slide into the wall. I'm glad I went, and perhaps I'd go again with free tickets as I did this time. But I don't think I'd pay for the experience.

And I probably didn't make many friends as I got bored and decided to cheer on Juan Pablo Montoya, who was about 8 miles behind everybody else and never seemed to be within a half-mile of any other car on the track. So 40 cars would zoom by, and then a few moments later, he'd come by and I'd stand up and yell, "Go, guy in red car!!" Getting in the middle of a bunch of Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans and yelling for Jeff Gordon probably didn't help, either. But aggravating folks was fun.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

News for Parrot Heads

Tickets for the June 5 Jimmy Buffett concert at Atlanta's Lakewood Amphitheatre go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday. They're $36-$136. (Guess which end of the range I'll be shooting for.) You know the drill: Go to your local Ticketmaster outlet or to Ticketmaster online and hit reload over and over. They sell out in just a few minutes. I've seen him at Phillips Arena and Lakewood, and the outdoor venue is the way to go for this show.

If you can't wait to get your Buffett fix, the newest Margaritaville bar/shop/restaurant opens today in Panama City Beach's huge Pier Park shopping and dining area on the west end of Highway 98. To learn more, click here.

Still trying to decide whether I should finally wear a coconut bra and grass skirt June 5.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The economy

My column this coming Sunday is all about economics, which is that study of numbers and dollars and that kind of evil stuff. Mainly it's about the difference between economists and us normal folks. While economists are worried about gross domestic product and how it translates into a possible recession, we normal folks don't have to go through all those reports. Mainly because we pump our own gas, and as it creeps closer to $4 a gallon, we can honestly say of our economy, recession or no recession, "We're screwed!"

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Monty Python's Life of Bleep

I got bleeped in my latest TV commentary. I've had columns pulled by editors a few times over the years, been told I had to change a word or two and had to yank paragraphs, but that's my first on-air bleep. It was a little surprising because it was a mere tongue-in-cheek comment referring to right-wingers' strange, overwhelming hatred for Hillary Clinton. I said it doesn't matter "if Hillary Clinton is Satan's daughter. Who her daddy is shouldn't matter at this point." The word "Satan" got bleeped. I didn't know Satan was a dirty word. You can catch my bleeped commentary here.

Speaking of censorship, I watched a great documentary from Britain's Channel 4 on YouTube today about the controversy surrounding Monty Python's "Life of Brian," which I think is the funniest movie ever made and is in my Top 10 movies of all-time. When I first saw it back in the 1980s, I recognized the brilliant religious satire was not something everyone can appreciate, but had no idea how upset religious zealots got about it in the late 1970s. If you tried to make that movie now, they would be even worse, though, because our society is so hyper-sensitive about possibly offending anyone. But as one of the guys points out in the documentary, if your religion can't handle having a little bit of fun poked at it, it ain't much of a religion.

I respect the Monty Python guys for having the guts to tackle it and George Harrison for funding it. It's evidence that sacred cows make the best hamburgers.

There are oodles of "Life of Brian" clips on YouTube and if you search wisely, you can watch the entire movie in 9 parts, approximately 10 minutes each. You can find the five parts of the documentary by clicking here.