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Thursday, December 14, 2017
Southern Weather Radar


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  • Writer Login


    Mike Cox

    Mike Cox
    Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.
    Number of posts: 95
    Email address: email
    Twitter: Twitter
    Subscribe to my RSS Feed: http://likethedew.com/author/mwc423/feed/

    By Mike Cox:


      why is it so hard?

      Singing Second

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Dec 12, 2017
      The 118th Army vs. Navy Game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Dec. 9, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Michelle Eberhart

      The first college football game I ever watched was the 1960 Army Navy contest. A running back named Joe Bellino caught my attention and I cheered enthusiastically for Navy during that contest. A few days later Bellino would also win the Heisman Trophy.

      My father watched the game with me and rooted for the opposing team. He served in World War II as a gunnery sergeant and was Army through and through. This was likely the first of many disagreements he and I would have over the years..

      southern blood

      Valhalla

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Oct 25, 2017
      Valhalla

      Without fanfare the bass player, Bob Keller, stepped to a microphone and introduced the first song.

      Here’s something by Bob Dylan.”

      The wall of sound unleashed from those speakers was unlike anything we’d ever heard. Maybe like a two by four upside the head. I swear the wind from their opening notes blew my hair.

      faux patriotism

      Respecting the Constitution

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Sep 25, 2017
      Respecting the Constitution

      So let me get this straight; the primary way for Americans to properly respect our country, flag and all those soldiers who died for our right to say what we want, act the way we want, and worship in the manner we see fit is to attend a sporting event and reverently stand while an ode to a night of bombardment during a war we didn’t win, set to the tune of a British drinking song, is sung by some diva trying to sing it completely apart from what it was intended.

      fight them at every turn

      Understanding Racism

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Aug 29, 2017
      Trump Rally Asheville by Will Thomas

      I can’t really help myself. It just happens. Whenever I see images of Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, or reasonable facsimiles, I think of Groucho Marx. The comedian from my dad’s generation famously stated that he would never want to join an exclusive club that was willing to accept him as a member.

      While viewing photos from KKK members, Confederate sympathizers’ mug shots, or watching the footage from places like Charlottesville, I can’t help but think: This is supposed to be an example of a superior race? Really?

      who will it be?

      The Honorable Senator from Alabama

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Aug 16, 2017
      Jeff Sessions, Roy Moore, Luther Strong

      The good folks in my home state of Alabama aren’t too sophisticated when it comes to voting excellent people into office. Consider that Jeff Sessions has been our senator for a long time, mostly running unopposed, or infrequently against some poor Democrat with no idea what he’s about to get involved in.

      Sessions perfected the religious fervor that doesn’t quite slip over into craziness …

      southern addiction

      Football Sex and Old Time Religion

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jul 27, 2017
      Football Sex and Old Time Religion

      The recent stunning downfall of the Ole Miss football coach has all the elements of a Southern Gothic tale. I’m surprised this wasn’t based on a Faulkner novel. Hugh Freeze resigned abruptly after being caught with incriminating evidence of sexual hanky-panky. The story had all the true elements of a southern tragedy; sex, religion, and football. What better way to spend an Autumn Saturday afternoon.

      paying attention

      Lafitte’s and Ali

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 20, 2017
      Cafe Lafitte in Exile on Bourbon Street in New Orleans

      “A man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali

      Sitting in Cafe Lafitte’s in Exile on a recent March morning, enjoying the best Bloody Mary in that foodie town, I wasn’t thinking about Ali. I was talking to Harvey, the guy on the next stool. But the words of The Greatest were appropriate.

      Two years prior, Suzy and I had stumbled into Lafitte’s asking for directions to a voodoo shop…

      remembering the king

      Singing With Chuck

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Mar 20, 2017
      Singing With Chuck

      During the spring of 2001, a few months before America changed for the worse, Shane and I were working on a dream trip. We were going to Wrigley, and taking my grandson with us. The feeling reminded me of Christmas the year I got my first 26” bicycle.

      The plans had been made; tickets for game and plane confirmed; hotel rooms reserved. About to bust from anticipation, I looked up activities for that weekend just to occupy my time. The Chicago Blues Festival, long on my bucket list, was happening the same weekend we’d be there…

      not a sport

      We are the Champions

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Feb 27, 2017
      Number one by Ron Bennetts via flickr

      As I made my way down I-26, a white van jerked into my lane. He not only failed to use a turn signal, his lights were off. Both are laws in South Carolina although many drivers treat them as tepid suggestions. The maneuver left so little room I almost scraped the Trump sticker off his bumper. At a younger age I might have opted for an extended horn blast or flashed my lights repeatedly.

      covered in paint

      Remembering Animal Farm

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Feb 3, 2017
      Remembering Animal Farm

      Thirty three years ago, George Orwell became extra popular across the world. His Facebook page went viral and he multiplied his Twitter followers a hundredfold, or he would have if those things had been operable in 1984.

      It appears he may be in the process of making a comeback. Based on the first few days of the Trump presidency, 1984 has vaulted to the top of the bestseller’s list. I’m down with dystopian novels being appropriate right now, but…

      how’s that working 4u?

      Dealing with Defeat

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jan 6, 2017
      Benjamin West’s painting of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse entitled “Death on a Pale Horse” (1796), Detroit Institute of Arts (Public Domain)

      On his Sunday TV show after the previous day’s football game, former Alabama coach Bear Bryant was once asked by sidekick Charley Thornton about his players crying after a particularly devastating loss.

      Bryant replied that the time for crying was the previous Tuesday when they practiced halfheartedly, or during film study, when the players showed little regard for that week’s opponent. That was when the upcoming game was lost.

      what if

      Almost

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Sep 7, 2016
      President Jimmy Carter relaxed at his desk in the Oval Office in April 1978

      The country was at peace; internally and around the world. We had issues; Russia was being aggressive, Central America was volatile, Israel and Egypt, of course. But America didn’t have a standing army fighting for some trumped up reason against people defending a place most of us couldn’t locate on a globe. In fact, Egypt and Israel would sign an historic accord to establish peace between the two countries during this year.

      The Son of Sam had been convicted and John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy had been arrested. The first mobile phone was introduced and Carl Sagan won a Nobel Prize. While inflation was still persistent, things were looking up …

      home grown

      An Act of Terrorism

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Aug 19, 2016
      1996 olympic bombing atlanta cnn

      Twenty years ago this summer, America was rocked by a terrorist attack. A religious fanatic radicalized by fundamentalist ideas planted a bomb at a crowded location during a major sporting event. The device he built killed one person and injured 120 more. The death toll could easily have been in the hundreds.

      That same terrorist planted three more bombs that injured and killed over the next two years; bombs targeting places he arrogantly linked to the causes he felt were worth murdering innocents for…

      bigotry still king

      Evading the hypocrisy

      by | 2, Add your Comment | May 10, 2016
      Southern hypocrisy meter

      I’m planning a road trip to see America with two of my sons. We are mapping out an itinerary circling the country and finding well-known, quirky, and interesting destinations. The hardest thing so far has been planning the trip without passing through states that have jumped on the deny people’s rights to get elected bandwagon.

      I know Tennessee recently passed legislation making the Bible the state book, but the governor vetoed it. Georgia is waffling on their version of discrimination in the name of religious liberty and safe restrooms after several major businesses in the Peach State protested.

      bb king

      The Thrill is Gone

      by | 5, Add your Comment | May 15, 2015
      BB King

      When my cellphone rings, the opening notes of The Thrill is Gone signal me. I will have to consider changing that now. The author and singer of that song has moved on to Rock and Roll Heaven. B. B. King died in his sleep Thursday after nearly a year in hospice. I can’t imagine anyone was surprised; death happens to us all and this one has been imminent for quite some time. But hearing him tell me the thrill is indeed gone might be more than I want to hear every time my phone rings.

      making magic

      Birdland

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Apr 9, 2015
      Birdland

      The guitar symbolized the entire day. A four string Fender electric bass resembling those currently popular among rock star wannabees and Hipsters. You pay a few hundred extra and the manufacturers ‘distress’ it. Makes the instrument appear well-worn, as if the owner has played every day for decades. Like Willie Nelson’s old acoustic, minus the bungee strap.

      I asked Owen if that was how it happened. He smiled a little then got a wistful look in his ancient eyes. “Yeah, it’s been distressed. The first bass I ever got.”

      friends

      Remembering Bubba

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Mar 16, 2015
      Remembering Bubba

      An email from my brother with only a name in the subject box means one thing; someone died. I knew who it was without opening the link. For those of us growing up together, there was only one Bubba. He wasn’t the stereotypical bubba of redneck lore. Roger Banks was built like a gun safe. Short and stocky, with calves like most guys’ thighs, Bubba appeared strong and solid at first glance. He exceeded expectations. Few of the folks who attended classes with him knew he once took violin lessons or wore two tone loafers with white uppers for a time. Likely everyone who passed him in the halls knew he was a bad ass.

      sins of the flesh

      God and Being Naked

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Mar 6, 2015
      God and Being Naked

      The 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition came last week to the usual uproar. The magazine ran reminders for a month reminding anyone who didn’t want nearly nekkid swimsuit girls sent to their home to let them know. Simultaneously, the parent company ran endless ads on television making sure everyone else could get a copy.

      I saw my first naked lady picture when I was ten, in a man’s magazine in the Rexall Drug Store in Demopolis, Alabama. The front cover mentioned uncovered cover girls. I honestly had no idea what that was until I turned to that page.

      one upgrade at a time

      Hooked on Apps

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Feb 6, 2015
      Hooked on Apps

      Hello, my name is Mike and I stand here today and admit to being an addict. Not sure why this happened. I’ve never had issues like this before. My Life Coach Desmond suggested this support group. He said Twitter or Instagram or something recommended you.

      I don’t smoke. Never been a drug user. Drink casually but not obsessively. I think claiming sex addition is BS. We’re all addicted to that. My problem is a little unusual and I hope you folks can help me. I’m addicted to apps.

      two name songwriters

      Being Wayne

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 22, 2015
      Tony Joe White, Billy Joe Royal, Jerry Jeff Walker, Gary P. Nunn, Ray Wylie Hubbard, David Alan Coe, Robert Earl Keen, Billy Joe Shaver

      My friend Tom says most, if not all, great writers are fractured individuals. I hope he’s wrong about that; I’ve always been a happy, well-adjusted guy. I plan to achieve Great Writer status one day and would hate to think lack of a tortured soul, along with precious little talent, will prevent such dreams. The only thing even remotely dark about me is my middle name.

      If I had been a girl, none of this would have happened. I would have been Betty Louise. At least that’s what my mother said. The Mike part of my name originated with an old Army buddy of my dad’s from WWII. I have no idea where my middle name came from and there’s no one left to ask.

      pistol pete

      The Dawning of Excellence

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 12, 2015
      The Dawning of Excellence

      Terry and I were enjoying an unabridged, non-scripted evening together; our first in many months. Suzy has known him longer than me and likes to accompany me when I meet him for drinks. That isn’t true where my other friends are involved. Tom and Rick she could give a rat’s ass about seeing. My partner bristles at the idea that the “dynamics change” when she is present, but it’s true. With Suzy in attendance the conversation is driven by her interests. Terry and I, on our own, drift among subjects like a rudderless sailboat. No direction, no fact finding, no censors.

      says it all

      Santa and Jesus

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Dec 22, 2014
      Santa and Jesus

      Each December, about a week before Christmas Day, I rummage through my electronic junk box and find my Christmas CD. I’m fussy about Christmas music. Don’t like anything too corny or elevator music-ish, nothing from Russian winter tales or other “traditional” Christmas events, and I don’t like to start more than a week before the actual day we celebrate. I’ll take my homemade Christmas CD of rock and roll Christmas songs from the Sixties until Christmas music started sucking and play it while I’m driving through the minefield of harried, distracted moms and elderly grandparents who only venture out this time of year…

      rising from the muck

      Watching the Rocket

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Dec 7, 2014
      Watching the Rocket

      I’m reasonably sure that I was sitting in front of a television set in Mrs. Reed’s fifth grade class on Friday May 5, 1961, watching Alan Shepard blast into outer space to defend America’s honor and innovative ability, and show the Ruskies who was boss. I can’t be 100% sure; we watched several of those early space flights in the classroom during the early Sixties but also missed a couple. One of the reasons I have a hard time distinguishing the flights is because the telecasts were remarkably similar. All three TV networks pre-empted regular programming for the events and flew the lead network newsman to Cape Canaveral.

      music memory

      The Hour Glass

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Aug 27, 2014
      The Hour Glass

      The project involved dropping a few yards of crush and run into the holes in our driveway and using rakes, shovels and old peoples’ sweat to spread it smooth. The final step was cranking my ancient Highlander and slowly packing the gravel. I rolled the windows down and energized the newly installed Alpine replacement radio. I am now using advanced technology and had filled a thumb drive with stuff from my youth. Up and down the driveway I slowly drove, trying to hit each spot of spread gravel. By random serendipity, the first tune was by an old group called the Hour Glass formed long ago by two brothers.

      august 13th

      Happy Left-hander’s Day

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Aug 12, 2014
      Happy Left-hander's Day

      August 13th is National Left-handers’ Day. I will celebrate quietly. I’m not sure about my sister; she is also a southpaw. That means our parents created two left-handed children, well above the national average of 10 to 13 percent. If you believe human traits are the result of parenting and choices from our youth, my parents did something radical to create this high percentage of southpaw children, something I wasn’t aware of. If you accept science, and think we are preprogrammed with certain traits then it was a matter of chance.

      futbol season

      World Cup Fever

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Jul 5, 2014
      World Cup Fever

      As the US futbol team moved from regulation into that mysterious realm known as extra time during the elimination World Cup match against Belgium, I was attending the Richland (SC) County Council meeting. Minutes before the meeting kicked off, one of the council members found the streaming broadcast on his county provided laptop. Belgium scored and he was confused as to why the madness continued. In American sports, sudden death means sudden victory.

      nice

      Daryl’s House

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Feb 17, 2014
      Daryl's House

      The text message was simple and in code; I was visiting Daryl’s house the other day and Billy Gibbons dropped by. We had fun. Billy has a killer guacamole recipe. My son’s one word reply: Nice.

      Shane and I are suckers for Live From Daryl’s House, a television music show hosted by legendary Eighties schlock performer Daryl Hall. John Oates is yet to appear, although the duo has showed up at a couple of concerts in the recent past.

      useless on ice

      Southern Snowpocalyse

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 30, 2014
      Southern Snowpocalyse

      A dozen years ago, during the early spring, I was visiting my son in Pennsylvania. Among the scheduled activities was an opportunity to see my ten year old grandson play basketball that Saturday at the local YMCA. Upon rising that morning and peering out the bedroom window, I felt a tinge of disappointment. A dusting of snow had come during the night. I walked down to get coffee and expressed my regret to my son. He looked at me with surprise and confusion until he realized what I meant.

      making memories

      Christmas in Dixie

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Dec 24, 2013
      Christmas in Dixie

      With his Christmas email to me, my friend Richard attached a Cox family Christmas morning picture from the mid Fifties. I have an electronic copy somewhere, as does my brother Rick, who posted it on Facebook. That’s where Richard saw it. He knew my brother and I had lost touch since Obama turned the country into a Socialist haven, so he included a copy in his Christmas greeting.

      right to be stupid

      Freeing Free Speech

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Dec 20, 2013
      Freeing Free Speech

      I sincerely hope Tommy Jefferson and John Adams and Jim Madison didn’t mean for this to be the end result. A second rate character in a two-bit television show has temporarily become the nation’s moral compass; the linchpin that holds equality together for ourselves and our posterity. Sonofabitch!

      First of all, let me emphasize that any TV network that calls itself the “Arts and Entertainment Network” and then runs “Duck Dynasty” marathons weekly needs to reassess direction.

      love them once again

      After the War

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Nov 1, 2013
      After the War

      We were enjoying bar food and cold drinks at an East Columbia establishment. College football was on every hi-def TV and the place was buzzing with good vibes. The lady sitting across from me, one of my favorite people; was trying to keep the night from becoming a bummer while attempting to come to grips with the recent death of a young friend.

      Her partner’s favorite nephew had lost his best friend to suicide. It was a bad combination of alcohol, overreaction, PTSD, and having a pistol handy.

      Joe Walsh; Philosopher

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Sep 26, 2013
      Joe Walsh; Philosopher

      During the Mid-sixties, a regional band called the James Gang had one local hit that everyone I knew loved beyond reason. The song was called “Georgia Pines.” It was a ballad about regret and the South. Every boy in my orbit could handle sensitivities like that without being called inappropriate slurs. A few years later while browsing in a record store (remember those?) I found an album by the James Gang and my heart pounded like the pile drivers just starting to proliferate on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

      grace of god

      Religious Experiences

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Aug 27, 2013
      Religious Experiences

      Religious experiences came few and far between after my little brother saved his mortal soul from Hell at the age of eight. Most of the truly moving experiences in my life since have either involved my family, sports, or music; maybe a combination of all those.

      feelin' 45, goin' on 15

      The Old Red Radio

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Aug 10, 2013
      The Old Red Radio

      By today’s standards of electronic innovation, the old radio would be an embarrassment; an eight track player sitting in a shiny new Lexus. There was no screen, no camera, no MP3 player; the device didn’t have remote speakers or digital capability. You couldn’t access Twitter, or even talk on the damn thing.

      work to be done

      Happy Birthday America

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jul 8, 2013
      4th of July

      The running lights from the boats scattered across the lake looked like a lightning bug invasion. There were dueling fireworks shows; the official Lake Murray display from Bomb Island and the Dreher Island effort several miles to the West.

      This was the celebration of our nation’s birthday, Columbia boat people style. Blessing the fleets, dinner at the sailing club, and watching the fireworks, or relaxing on a sandbar with a blonde and some Budweiser, take your pick.

      black top musing

      Going Where We’re Going

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jun 26, 2013
      Going Where We're Going

      Driving on back roads and through small towns stir up more than just memories for those who grew up on those back roads and main streets. Questions about where we’ve been and where we’re going nearly always come up … and the answers may be further on down those roads.

      The Fire Next Time

      Rising From the Ashes

      by | 2, Add your Comment | May 14, 2013
      Mark Sanford Rising From The Ashes

      In this day of anonymous email trashings, un-informed blog posts, and you tube mistakes that last forever, we rarely see political second chances. But last week a disgraced public servant rose like a Phoenix from the ashes to reclaim former glory in the political arena.

      Mark Sanford has been elected to represent Charleston, and South Carolina, in the United States Congress. In a room where everyone is addressed as “honorable” Sanford will have an opportunity to regain the revered glow…

      Ten Years

      Yank Redux

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Mar 22, 2013
      Yank Redux

      If you’ve been watching the local news in the last month, you have seen footage of soldiers leaving for the Middle East. There are several military bases in South Carolina and the flow of soldiers oversees has been constant. Every time I see such a story, I think of a high school friend.

      His name was Allan Gaines, but we called him Yank. His family moved south during his early teens and he never lost his accent. When he graduated from high school in 1967, he joined the Marines and left for Parris Island.

      Joy of Life

      We’re the Intelligent Ones

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Mar 18, 2013
      We're the Intelligent Ones

      There are few things in life as fine as sitting in a southern place, drinking something cold, and watching a spring breeze tousle the tree limbs in a location where no other sights are visible and no other sounds are audible. I am lucky enough to live in such a place so when the weather turns this way I can walk out the back door into paradise.

      The third Saturday in March was such a magnificent afternoon. The Landlord and I sat at a weathered teak table with numerous dogs paying rapt attention in case a Cheezit might hit the deck. Beer from the man-fridge tasted like honeydew vine water.

      Where's the Heart Key?

      Here’s To Love

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Feb 13, 2013
      Here's To Love

      Each year I get giddy just thinking about February Fourteenth, my favorite perverse holiday: A celebration of love invented by card companies to increase revenue between Christmas and Mother’s Day. Love itself was invented by humans to justify the unspeakable things we do to each other while under the influence of our primal instincts.

      Valentine’s Day has become a national obsession. Americans will spend over $16 billion on the day’s festivities in 2013 with men outspending women by a two to one margin. The most surprising thing is the amount women will fork over. The most preferred gift the ladies can offer doesn’t actually cost anything.

      15 Seconds

      Remembering Greatness

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Feb 6, 2013
      Remembering Greatness

      I gravitated toward the giggling coming from a small group of female co-workers, all north of the middle age demographic. They were passing around 8X10 glossies and smiling as if back in high school. Stan, the resident work place geek, was beaming like he just discovered 3 gigs of RAM.

      The pictures were glam shots of Bobby Sherman, the Sixties pop star. He was either using really old photos left over when his fame sailed out of the harbor, or had filtered current shots with industrial strength Photoshop.

      Over the Cacophony

      Listening to the Rain

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Dec 27, 2012
      Listening to the Rain

      From downstairs arose such a clatter I knew the roofers had arrived. We cohabitate with five dogs and a cat under normal circumstances; when we are fostering others, the numbers swell. Currently there are eight total beasts capable of raising the fore-mentioned clatter. Reminiscent of the Bumpus Hounds from A Christmas Story.

      The roofers were there to install our much anticipated metal roof, something my Running Mate has longed for since before I arrived. I had nothing to do with the decision, planning, or…

      Giving

      A Sincere Christmas Suggestion

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Dec 10, 2012
      A Sincere Christmas Suggestion

      Here’s a sincere and hopeful Christmas suggestion designed to reduce stress and improve holiday festivities for all of us this year.

      To: All of you who feel the need to shop for everyone you know, used to know, or might know in the future, whether you start purchasing gifts in April from a carefully prepared Excel spreadsheet, rush around the last week like some insane Tasmanian Devil, or visit the 24 hour drug store Christmas morning to purchase guilt ridden, desperation presents for those who surprised you.

      Hunting Memories

      Remembering Bob White

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Nov 15, 2012
      Remembering Bob White

      Walking the dogs early one recent morning I heard a quail’s call, something absent from my ears for decades. These birds were once plentiful throughout the South until fire ants, coyotes, developers; all members of the same irritating sub-species, took their toll.

      Many refer to this bird by the distinctive whistle; Bob White. My father called them potter-idges. He introduced me to quail hunting early, allowing me to tag along on a bird hunting trip to the family farm when I was six.

      Missing George III?

      Saving the Country

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Nov 2, 2012
      President Obama as Nigel Terry in Excalibur

      Excalibur was on a movie channel the other night. I watched; couldn’t help it. The 1981 John Boorman classic is a rousing retelling of the King Arthur legend and as visually stunning as any current, computer programmed blockbuster.

      If you can get past the unintentional Monty Python moments that appear in dialogue and character portrayal, you will enjoy the tale, especially if you are a sucker for the medieval period, as I am.

      Dad's Eyes

      Watching Larry Jones

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Oct 4, 2012
      Watching Larry Jones

      Baseball stole my heart early on. My dad taught me how to throw and catch, and shared stories of his playing days. He bought my first unused glove, a Rawlings Duke Snider model, at Western Auto in Centreville, Alabama, when I was nine. The experience was so magical I eventually wrote a song about it. I still love spring training and Opening Day. I can watch baseball and discuss the intricacies of the sport all summer long.

      The Real Thing

      The Last Hero

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Aug 27, 2012
      Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface

      We were sitting in the den, which was a converted one vehicle carport, so common in the middle class neighborhoods of the Sixties. My father and I were watching the television screen, hypnotized. A black and white image flickered across the room, something unusual in those days since Bonanza brought color to TV viewing.

      A man in big boots and a white suit struggled down a ladder and tested the sand-like surface below. He finally dropped to that surface, still clinging to the ladder. A voice came from the television screen.

      Angels Passing

      At Last

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jan 21, 2012
      At Last

      I first heard At Last on a B. B. King duet CD. The song was marvelous on so many levels; words, tune, idea conveyed, just wonderful. Over the next few years I discovered different versions by a variety of singers. Then one night, while watching TV, I heard the penultimate version of the song on a TV ad.

      The commercial was for Jaguar. A sleek, shiny Jag moved through wet streets and dark places while some lady who knew a helluva lot about soul was giving chills to everyone listening.

      Southern Deities

      The Divine Tim Tebow

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Jan 9, 2012
      The Divine Tim Tebow

      It appears the demise of Tim Tebow was premature. The former Gator and current choirboy engineered a near miraculous effort on Sunday. His Broncos defeated the formidable Pittsburg Steelers to advance to the second round of the NFL playoffs.

      Tebow had been a sensation recently, gaining exposure on Entertainment Tonight and national news networks, as well as round the clock coverage on ESPN. A six game win streak during the middle of the season assured the Broncos of a spot in the playoffs, although a recent three game slide, in which the team and the quarterback looked horrible, appeared to dash any hopes of advancement, even with divine help.

      Solstice Soul

      The War on Saturnalia

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Dec 24, 2011
      The War on Saturnalia

      I come from a long line of pagans, vandals, and villains. While the Greeks were establishing the basics of math and science, the Chinese were inventing gunpowder and the computer, and the Persians were laying the foundation for civilization itself, my people were living in small groups in the European woods, sacrificing each other and worshiping oak trees. When someone mentions Caucasians as a superior race, I giggle.

      Like most primitive people, my ancestors worshipped anything they didn’t understand. Certain unique days and recurring celestial events were identified by someone with superior intelligence and given prominence and, sometimes, a holiday. I’m pretty sure none of those deep thinkers reside at the roots of my family tree.

      The Winter Solstice was one of those days.

      Music Tech

      Remembering the Mix Tape

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Dec 8, 2011
      Remembering the Mix Tape

      It seems the tread marks of speeding, relentless technology are once again decorating my backside. I’ve been searching for plastic CD sleeves for the traveling music in my car. The hard plastic ones are too distracting to change out while driving and the area designated for them in my Highlander won’t hold as many as I want to store. The paper ones are too fragile.

      I should probably move on to an MP3 player but I can’t justify putting an expensive system in a car with 300k on it. Besides, there is nothing wrong with the current setup, just the storage area.
      I searched several places for the two sided plastic CD sleeves that will give me what I want but have been unable to find any at this point. CD paraphernalia has started toward the place where eight track cleaning tapes, whiteout, and phonograph needles have gone.

      Southern Rednecks

      Hitler and Hank Jr.

      by | 11, Add your Comment | Oct 6, 2011
      Hitler and Hank Jr.

      If Hank Williams Jr. had not been born in Alabama, state officials at some point would have started extradition proceedings. He is dyed-in-the-wool Southern Redneck; unashamed and vocal about it. The son of Luke the Drifter used to sing about every aspect of proud but ignorant Southern heritage, from wild parties to trash talking fat society women to reasoning that the ability to “skin a buck and run a trot line” makes one far superior to some poor bastard with a Harvard education.

      Southern Politics

      America’s to do List

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Sep 26, 2011
      America's to do List

      America is struggling politically and no one in Washington seems willing to make a course correction. Anyone who thinks electing representatives of either party will solve this mess is delusional. For the last decade or so, politicians have worshipped at the altar of Big Money like never before, and have used the media and our inattention and apathy to create a mess. No existing or future politician is going to change anything unless the system changes.

      Southern Movies

      Vision Quest

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Sep 15, 2011
      Vision Quest

      I was searching for something to fill the commercial spots during Sweat Equity and wasting the remaining fifteen minutes before leaving for a meeting. The channel guide settled on Vision Quest. There were twelve minutes left. If you have seen the movie, you know what choice I made.

      There were lots of obnoxious things slipping through common sense filters in the Eighties. Hair was big. So were characters, real and imagined. Our country elevated self-congratulation to an astronomical level during that decade, rebounding from the doldrums that were the Seventies.

      Southern Media

      Please Stop the Madness

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Aug 30, 2011
      Please Stop the Madness

      I thought leisure suits and women’s shoulder pads, backward baseball caps, reality television, and the downward spiral of working politicians was idiocy at its worst. Obviously I was wrong. This past weekend was the culmination of several years of stupidity that keeps proliferating and deteriorating. The trend has little hope of reversing itself.

      What I’m referring to is the need of television stations to place some outmanned soul in the midst of the elements to report an impending storm. Why? Seeing a drenched dimwit in a fluttering yellow rain suit trying to scream lucid comments over the howling wind doesn’t improve my understanding of a storm’s severity, or increase my TV viewing experience. Maybe Stephanie Abrams in a wet bathing suit, but not Al Roker in a flapping slicker.

      Southern Life

      Rookie at Roller Derby

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Aug 13, 2011
      Rookie at Roller Derby

      For a redneck boy born at home, I’ve seen a lot. Sang at the Junior Talent Show, caught the last out, been carried off the field by a victorious football team, and flown solo. I’ve watched auto racing on Friday night at Freeman’s Short track, Saturday afternoon at Holiday Beach drag strip, and Sunday at Talladega. I have been a spectator for minor league baseball, low rent rodeo, ice hockey in three different southern states, and boxing.

      My list of happenings includes the New Orleans Jazzfest, West Alabama State Fair, the Okra Strut, a spelling bee, quilting bee, hog killing, and a chicken fight. A few Saturday nights ago I checked off another momentous accomplishment; roller derby. I can now die happy; be promoted to glory with nary a whimper.

      Southern Life

      Summer Camp

      by | 6, Add your Comment | Jul 7, 2011
      Summer Camp

      Neither one is available to explain so I will never know what possessed my parents to send me to summer camp in August of 1960. Our family lived in River Bend, Alabama, during that time, at my dad’s old home place. Situated in an old farm house built in the approximate center of eighty acres, we were in little boy paradise.

      Any land that wasn’t cultivated was natural. There were creatures galore residing in thick hardwood habitats bordered by a couple of crystal clear creeks and the Cahaba River. Our world offered so many varied and interesting places and things we could have spent decades there and never stirred up the same trouble twice.

      Southern Life

      When air conditioning was really cool

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Jun 20, 2011
      When air conditioning was really cool

      In 1961, in Tuscaloosa, there were only two places to cool off during the hot summer weather that covered the Confederacy like a wool blanket between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The first was the public swimming pool. Down a winding Queen City Avenue to the bottom of the hill near the Black Warrior River, was little boy Heaven.

      The facility had clear, sparkling water, high diving boards, and that most mysterious creature; giggling, developing girls …

      The other place in town to cool off was Brown’s Department Store. Situated about five blocks from our home and up a slightly inclining University Boulevard, Brown’s offered something no other store had; air conditioning.

      Southern Sports

      Misfits

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 1, 2011
      Jackie Traina Scores for Alabama

      She was what my uncle would have called a big ol’ corn fed gal. Large boned and awkward, with a round, full face, she endured junior and senior high in the third largest school population in Alabama and as far as I know didn’t have a single friend. I know I never witnessed her interacting with a soul.

      In a place where class distinction is important and everyone’s worth is measured by a few simple things, she was invisible to almost all of us. This girl didn’t possess family wealth, great looks, comedic genius, or athletic prowess; the qualities that determined seating order at lunch, who escaped ridicule, and who paired off at proms. She didn’t even fit into the misfit groups who lived on the periphery of campus life.

      Southern People

      Ricky and the Tiller

      by | 4, Add your Comment | May 19, 2011
      Tiller on the Constitution

      Ricky was scrutinizing a five hundred dollar tiller in Home Depot. I stopped to talk. Walking around stores that sell manly stuff and starting conversations is great fun for me. My sons will confirm I have done this for a long time. These days I get paid for the privilege.

      Politicians and opinionators warn us about people like Ricky; he is one of the groups messing up America. There have been many since we gained our independence and started letting lawyers run things. The British and the Native Americans were the first ones. Irishmen, Jews, Catholics, Japanese, Commies, Hippies, Vietnamese, and Muslims followed at convenient intervals.

      Southern Views

      Wireless in Heaven

      by | 2, Add your Comment | May 12, 2011
      Wireless in Heaven

      Robert Earl Keen is a Texas songwriter who has toiled in relative obscurity, struggling for success in this American Idol world we live in. He writes wonderful songs about people and events he’s encountered over the decades and occasionally sells something to someone more famous. Keen is also capable of writing tunes with a humorous take on life its ownself. Check out Christmas with the Family for an excellent example.

      Last year’s Rose Hotel CD had a number pondering whether Jesus is electronically connected. “Is there wireless in Heaven or do I go to Hell?” he asks to no one in particular from a Starbucks serving line. A bit of benign fun for scamps everywhere and something to ponder for the more serious among us.

      Franklin Graham, son of Billy, is one of the more serious among us who ponders such issues without putting his tongue in cheek.

      Southern Divas

      Dionne and Charlotte

      by | 2, Add your Comment | May 3, 2011
      Dionne Warwick

      Dionne Warwick, the legendary singer and classy lady, was on the future president’s TV show last week. Wouldn’t Donald Trump be great as our Chief Executive? The current disparity between the very rich and the poor mirrors that of most third world countries. All we need is an insane, power crazy dictator. The Donald would be perfect.

      Based on the previews from The Apprentice, Ms. Warwick has become a spoiled diva. I find that hard to believe; Ms. Warwick has always projected and aura of stately elegance, refined beyond belief. Even when her niece Whitney Houston made some poor choices, Dionne seemed to rise above the trashiness. I am more amazed that she would submit to such degradation as trying to be rational with Gary Busey. Maybe Meat Loaf talked her into it.

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