My right eye is doing the heavy lifting; my left, just along for the ride for now.
Six months ago, I had a detached and torn retina in my left eye. Thanks to micro- and laser-surgery techniques, they can fix that. Not that long ago, I would’ve lost the sight in the eye. The cause? Old age, my friend, old age. While detached and/or torn retinas can happen as the result of an injury, in folks my age, they’re caused by 1) a misshapen eye (mine are extremely myopic; I had worn glasses for distance since third grade until I had LASIK a decade ago) …
“Jimmy Joe, ground ball back to you, I got the throw at second.”
I joined a Greek fraternity at the University of Virginia in the fall of 1976. Like most large schools with dozens of different houses, an incoming freshman had a lot to choose from. There were old Southern houses that dated back to the Civil War. There were heavy drinking houses. Other houses preferred…
a sooty middle finger
I was stopped for a red light while on my way to the grocery store when it pulled up in the lane next to me. I heard its rumble and felt its shadow fall like a partial eclipse before I actually saw it. When I glanced left from the window of my medium-sized sedan, I was eye level with its underbelly – the pristine wheel wells, the giant tires, the gleaming chassis, a concentration of chrome like a buck-toothed teenager’s orthodontics. The reflections of my car and the car just ahead of me in its side panels didn’t even reach as high as its door handles…
staring at the sun
For one brief, shining moment, we gathered near strangers, didn’t fear for our lives, and watched the moon blot out the sun. The moon & sun were gliding all over fly-by land, giving us a quick peek at our natural selves; amazed, amused and/or otherwise distracted from the chaos of our own creation. We thought about our place in the universe, among the other animals making noises and clustering together.
who will it be?
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 …
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.
The word “authentic” is being tossed around a lot these days … another empty-calorie, tasteless ingredient in today’s word salad. The kale of the word world.
The other day, a leaking pustule of a man, Anthony Scaramucci, took over the job of White House Communications Director from the former dripping abscess, Sean Spicer. During one of his attempts at deceiving the press and the public, Scaramucci, started rambling on about just how great Sarah Huckabee was, saying,
people need to know
Breaking Newz: A quickly unfolding scandal has revealed that Hillary Clinton colluded with millions of democrats nationwide to vote against Donald Trump during the 2016 elections.
In a statement today, Satan’s BedBug, Kellyanne Conway, said “We hope it is clear to America now how unfairly Donald Trump was treated. When Donald Trump ran for president, Hillary purposely tried to win. We see this as proof she colluded with American Democrats…
even uncle sam has bad days
On the Fourth of July, we naturally think of Uncle Sam, our nation’s favorite icon. While I try to keep a positive attitude about Uncle Sam in July, I can’t forget the day the old man hurt my feelings in October.
Let me explain: Back in the day, Fairfax (AL) Cotton Mill chartered a bus to take the mill-village Boy Scouts to the Southeastern Fair in Atlanta. As a proud member of Fairfax Troop 10, I was thrilled at the prospect of such a magical journey. Going to the Southeastern Fair was like a trip to Mars…
name 12 people
Hand over my heart, this is a true story.
The South is known for its unusual characters, right? They populate the stories of Southern writers like Erskine Caldwell, Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, etc. and et al.
But we Southerners know, don’t we, that you don’t have to crack one of these authors’ famous books to find such a fictional character’s prototype?
tit for tat
I was never exactly sure whether my father, Bill Strickland, was an amateur adult or a professional adolescent. Here is just one of the many incidents that led to my confusion.
The Pledgers, Bryant and Erma, a middle age childless couple, were our next door neighbors in Fairfax , an east Alabama mill village, when I was growing up. Mr. Bryant operated the Sinclair Service Station at the cotton-mill village crossroads, which also served as the bus station. Miss Erma ran the cash register and kept the books.
I was nine years old in the spring of 1967 when my father asked me if I wanted to tryout for Little League. I had no idea what Little League was but when he explained it was baseball, I quickly agreed. He had taken me to my first ballgame when I was six so any combination of my dad and baseball meant an instant yes. Back home a few hours later, he told me someone called to say I’d been picked to play for the Beachwood-Pine Beach (NJ) Little League Cardinals.
God made the funny bone, but it atrophies with disuse. Those of us who closely follow the evening news are highly susceptible to morphing into a sourpuss.
An excellent remedy over the long haul is to give no more than 15 minutes a day to the headlines and redeem the rest of the day by reading good poetry aloud, fly-fishing alone in a huge state or federal park, changing diapers (of the very old or of the newborn), looking in a mirror while sticking out your tongue… Use your imagination. That’s why we have one.
a fairy tale
Nothing prepared me for the shock discovery after months in a writers’ group where I now live in Ireland, that several of our members firmly believe in fairies. Nobody dismissed them as figments of the imagination. I had to look into this.
Joining this group had opened a new window for me into a writer’s world. We meet weekly on Sunday afternoons in a village coffee and book shop serving excellent latte…
deeply disturbing satire
As smoke from the dumpster fire at the Trump White House blocks out the sun over Washington, flames are finally reaching the steps of Capitol Hill. Among at least some majority party Senators and Representatives, our constitutional crisis finally registered at the “deeply disturbing” level this week. (Now, if someone could just correlate that to Yellow, Orange, or Red on the Homeland Security scale.)
release your tax returns
Once again, President Tweety has claimed that Americans who march in protest of his policies or of him personally are doing so for pay. His latest accusation came in a tweet on Easter Sunday, one day after citizens in cities as far flung as New York and Birmingham hit the streets to demand that he release his tax returns.
I am going to take him at his word that events like these are orchestrated and funded as part of a vast left-wing conspiracy. And I would like to ask a simple question: Where do I sign up?
President Donald Trump kept his campaign vow to put more Americans back to work by signing an executive order Wednesday that will ease government regulations against the surgical removal of testicles and revive the long-languishing castrato industry in this country.
“C’mon, fellas, you know what this is, you know what this says,” Trump said during a signing ceremony at the White House where he was flanked on stage by unemployed males with low-pitched vocal ranges…
for our ultimate audience
Talk about writer’s block: What about having to write an epitaph for your mother’s gravestone? The idea of an epitaph, of course, is that it’s written for the ages, even those short simple annals of the poor on weed-lost tombstones.
I write, and teach writing. I teach that it starts with your audience. If you’ve been writing only for your teacher, you haven’t really started to learn writing. Writing well for a mass of strangers – that’s more like it.
I am looking for new friends to replace those who have fallen off the perch already and to increase my personal wealth. The new friends will need to share my values of honest hard work, democracy, freedom of speech, equality, love of the great outdoors, baseball, football and a passion for fine red wine.
For a long time I thought great wealth was the secret to friendship because the few millionaires I met had a lot of friends…
harder than it has to be
It occurs to me that the other people who live at my house have an absolute unholy fascination with time. These people HAVE to know EXACTLY what time it is – at all times. It’s an obsession. Sometimes I think the rest of them were related to Galileo, Pope Gregory or that our last name was not ‘Cantrell’ but rather, Bulova.
There is a clock of some kind in every room of our house. In a couple of rooms there’s more than one…
on lewis grizzard
My wife and I drove last week to Marietta, Ga., for a wedding party. Imagine my surprise when on a stretch of I-85 in Coweta County, about 40 miles southwest of Atlanta, I saw a sign that read: Lewis Grizzard Memorial Highway.
It warmed my heart, for I knew the late Lewis Grizzard when years ago I was a writer/editor for The Atlanta Constitution, where his incredible rise to fame began.
Atlantans are preparing for what many believe is an impossibility: ascending I-75 during rush hour in time to make it to a Braves’ game in Cobb County.
For weeks fans have been stockpiling food and fuel and consulting guides – one Buckhead man has hired six Sherpas – for the treacherous trek to the top of the city’s peak traffic nightmare where breathing can require oxygen and one slip can be fatal.
“My wife doesn’t want me to go,” said Billy Waldrop. “You know, we’ve got three kids, and if I don’t make it…”
will it stay airborne?
“Allowing a monkey to drive a race car sounds like an amusing idea, but only to those who have never tried it.” – The Bard of Affliction
The great Airship of State had been flying for 241 years now. It wasn’t always an airliner, of course. Back when it began to function, a hot-air balloon was sufficient to hoist its machinery. As the years flew by, however, and new technologies became available, it eventually transferred itself into ever more efficient aerial transports, the better to float high above the hostile environment below …
heaven help me
Two thousand seventeen has not gotten off to a good start for Yours Truly.
First, there was the dress. No. make that The Dress. It was “The Dress” instead of simply “the dress” because it is for the upcoming wedding of our youngest son, Carson, a brilliant new lawyer (takes after his father) who now calls Des Moines, Iowa, home. Carson will wed Claire Roth in Athens in April. You might recall my column on his unusual Pepperoni Proposal…
crackdown on continues
In a series of tweets and Fox News interviews, President Donald Trump on Thursday vowed to deport Area 51 aliens and answer scores of questions that have plagued the minds of millions who voted for him.
“The people have a right to know, and I’m going to tell them,” Trump tweeted. “I’ve ordered the FBI to send me all of their X-Files.”
At an afternoon press conference in Roswell, New Mexico, before a crowd estimated by the White House to exceed fourteen million …
just the facts
This story is moving so quickly I’m not sure I can keep up with it. By the time you read this we could be in a war with Korea and Putin will be dancing in the West Wing. The American press has been shamed for reporting reality and disseminating verifiable information. I called KellyAnn ConJob to ask her about this and the she-beast of propaganda, hissed … “It’s not the press’s job to report reality, their job is to report what I say reality is.”
destruction of american values
President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that he’s done more in his first seven days than God did.
“He did a lot,” Trump tweeted. “I’d be the first to admit that. I’m a devout man. But this week, Lordy, kind of hard to trump Trump!”
According to the Biblical account, God created the entire universe in seven days. Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway conceded Friday “that was a remarkable achievement, in its own right.
fake opinion next?
Fake News sites are laying off thousands of workers in the wake of Donald Trump’s first days in office when he rattled off so many lies publishers of the sites said there’s no more complete horsecrap left to make up.
“He’s ruining our business model,” said Ted Klepper, an out-of-work auto worker who publishes TruthGodFacks.com from a shed in the back of his home in Blanchard, Michigan.
make america ache again
Amid rising concerns among millions of jobless, destitute and desperately angry white males that he is about to cave to political pressure, President-elect Donald Trump reassured his supporters Monday that he still plans to destroy every last vestige of their health care.
“Everybody who voted for me is not going to have to mess with going to the doctor, I guarantee you!” Trump tweeted …
Hillary was dead, not dead dead, but dead as a hammer in the world of politics. The Electoral College was dedicated to its duty, and voted according to expectations, with its members then checking themselves into rehab.
It was in this world that The Donald lived. High potentate, head banana, big-wig and man in charge, living large in The Tower while waiting for the residents of the public housing to move out so he could move in, if he decided he wanted to downgrade…
It starts by driving 500 miles to seven different tree farms, farmers markets and retail establishments to argue with seven fingered cretins about how “there is no way in hell I’m going to pay you 100 bucks for a dead, eight-foot tree.” At some point, finding yourself in state other than the one in which you started, and having been told by the seventh tree ape to “shove it” in several languages and hand gestures, you decide to cut your losses (no pun intended) …
who's your master?
It’s long been said that if you want a friend in Washington, adopt a dog.
President-elect Trump does not have a pet, other than his ex-wives, but reports by a Trump consultant indicated he may be changing his mind on having a national pet.
While presidents in the past have had all manner of pets, ranging from dogs to goats, because of Trump’s noted short attention span and indifference to details and facts, there are worries that a White House pet could be neglected.
That’s right. I chose a five-dollar word for saying what 50-cent “forgotten” says, for I come to exalt that legendary offspring of a female horse and donkey. The left-behind mule helped build the South and did so quietly without polluting the air. Then the combustion engine came along, and abandonment became the mule’s fate. It had already been condemned to death in many a story for it’s been said no Southern story is complete without a dead mule…
Trump Tower, USA – In what insiders call a “tweak” to his campaign pledge to build a border wall to keep Mexicans from sneaking into America, president elect Donald Trump plans to move the wall to the Canadian border – to keep terrified Americans from getting out.
“It’s a testament to the power of his presidency,” said a Trump source. “He believes so strongly in …
dr. ben carson did what?
Ok, first a quick update: I want to just say I’m very disappointed that it looks as though I did not win either the Electoral College or the popular vote.
My campaign manager Mr. Mittens is digging through the early returns (and his bag of cat nip) in order to find out just where my campaign went south. So, unless the Supreme Court steps in I may not become president this time around. I am also deeply troubled to inform my supporters that my own mother didn’t vote for me…
parody on the stump
One says it can clean your face, your body, and prevent microbe borne disease.
The other focuses on sewage and promises to clean up all clogged systems, sewage related or not.
A contest was held to see which product was more popular.
When it was apparent that people would choose a clean face and body and disease prevention, the Drano producers decided to tout their product as a suppository laxative.
Hey, Anoni here. Some time since I posted as Gusto and I been busy: busy getting old. Gus limps more than he did a while back, and I’m going deaf. Old age has its compensations, like hearing aids and walking sticks, experience and wisdom, but it ain’t much fun. I compensate by bragging that I’m pushing 80, but Gus just holds his back and groans. No good lying about our age, in fact we’ve got to the stage feeling satisfied, when folks we know drop off the perch and we’re still here.
I am the first write-in presidential candidate who will win in a landslide. So heads up — Hillary is not the only historic choice here.
My run for the highest office in the land has gone exceedingly well. I am the first candidate to run an issue-free, wall-free, policy-free, promise-you-anything-to-get-in-office, campaign. (I know, I know, the Donald is neck-and-neck with me on this, but I’m not worried that he’ll grab the presidency – other stuff, well, you may want to be careful, just sayin’.)
I admit it: I’m a carpetbagger. For the unenlightened, according to Merriam-Webster, a carpetbagger is “a person from the northern United States who went to the South after the American Civil War seeking private gain under the reconstruction governments.” Colloquially, a carpetbagger is any Yankee who moves to the South…and stays.
As far as the former definition goes, I am indeed “a person from the northern United States who went to the South after the American Civil War.” It was after the Civil War…104 years after…
mule lovers memories
A friend told me the other day that “mules are so smart you can’t help but wish they could run for congress. This buddy of mine knows a lot about a lot of things. This particular day he was recalling the glory days of those noble creatures – the mule – now all but forgotten.
He was telling me about how he and another friend were about to cross a bridge and the mule in their charge refused to cross the bridge. It turned out that the bridge was unsafe. This action has unlocked stories and memories of some other mule lovers we know about.
truth – google it
When President Obama said, at the Democratic National Convention, that Hillary Clinton is better prepared to occupy the Oval Office than any previous aspirant, he had no idea how right he was. This woman has powers that mere mortals don’t. She’s way past bitch all the way to witch. I mean literally. I know because I read it on the Internet.
Think about it. Forty people who were slated to testify to her criminal malfeasance in letting the American Consulate at Benghazi, Libya, get incinerated have all been murdered. And although my Facebook informant is kind of shaky on the details, he’s absolutely certain …
I’m not prone to posting video of myself talking. But, in this case, what I need to say isn’t something I could type now even if I wanted to. Still the words are ones I’ve been unable to stop repeating for 40 years.
The ability to recite the Prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in Middle English has perhaps proven useful in the waning hours of a few cocktail parties over the years. But, it’s never been something to feature on a resume or bring up in a job interview. I’m waiting, but LinkedIn still hasn’t included this as a skill to tag in my profile.
My “Old Maid Aunt” Naomi, prided herself on being “the only woman used car dealer in Atlanta.” Her car lot was on Lucky Street on the way to downtown Atlanta from where she lived on Piedmont Avenue. Seemed like thousands of cars passed her place daily – or hourly.
It was the summer of 1943 and I was a 14-year old. World War II was in full swing. I was scheduled to go into 8th grade at Christ School in Arden, a private school that was to cost $600 including room and board. My Dad was operating a grocery store, meat market and café in Fletcher, NC. I would have done almost anything that summer not to have to deal with killing cows and pigs and helping prepare them for sale in my Dad’s grocery store. I had that experience once, and that was enough.
When I was growing up, the Chinese capital was pronounced “PEE-king.” There was no latitude in the pronunciation of this word. It was not POO-king nor PIE-king. It was PEE-king. To deliberately say the word otherwise would be risking a paddle swatted against your rump for cutting up or being a pest in class.
Then a few years ago, I noticed newscasters and politicians saying “BAY-sheeng,” instead of the well-worn, polished word implanted in my vocabulary. They would have a sneaky look on their faces like they were putting one over on us.
Dylan mocked, “. . . with God on our side.”
The Boy Scouts award a “God and Country” merit badge.
Nick Searcy sloganed, “God bless America – and no place else !”
And those longing for the “good old days” tend to lean to the right side of the political spectrum embracing “Guns and God.”
But who is this God?
And does he belong to the Republican Party?
I say there is proof in Genesis, that He does.
In “We Take Care of Our Own,” New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote last month about conflicting world views of nationalism and globalism. To these, he added the notion of moral particularists and moral universalists, borrowing ideas from an essay by NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt published in The American Interest. Paraphrasing, Brooks describes the nationalist/particular world view: “They’ve built moral systems on loyalty and support for their own kin and fellow citizens…
just political applesauce
More than a decade after South Carolina’s Fritz Hollings left the United States Senate, people still talk about how he would talk about things.
Whenever Hollings took the floor of the Senate to make a speech, staffers would often stop their day-to-day business and watch on the Senate’s internal television network to listen to what he would say.
“That’s like delivering lettuce by way of a rabbit,” Hollings could be heard when discussing something dysfunctional about government spending.
illogical abuse of discourse
With the general election less than two months away, I’m exhausted almost daily putting new batteries into my thinking cap so that I can be a responsible, critical listener to the appeals of all candidates.
I was an English professor for 44 years before I retired in 2001, but I dare not place my brain on automatic pilot given the billions spent to persuade us. In 1958-59, my first year of teaching, without comment I gave to a class at Auburn University, then still under legally mandated segregation, a pamphlet circulated by the Ku Klux Klan …
can't go home again
Dudley Snodgrass, called “Duddy” was a very intelligent boy. He learned to talk and walk at a young age, and in school his grades were perfect. His mother adored him, his teachers were constantly bragging on him. The other kids called him “Einstein” and “Brain” and some secretly resented him. Some not so secretly.
Painful, crippling shyness was the only chink in Duddy’s armor. When called on in class, he would turn beet red and stammer a stuttering answer. He would get physically ill when he had to stand before the class and give a book report…
I know you’ve heard that love will find a way. Me, too, but who knew that a pepperoni pizza could be part of Cupid’s plan? You listening?
He was a boy, 26, from Columbia, South Carolina. She was a girl, 23, from Albany, Georgia. He graduated (English) from the University of South Carolina (Go, Gamecocks!). She graduated (social work) from the University of Alabama (Roll, Tide!). This Southern boy and this Southern girl first met in Charleston, South Carolina, that Holy City of the American South. This Southern twosome fell in love in Charleston…
Okay, get the handcuffs ready. I’m about to confess:
By day, I am Robert Lamb, famous author of great novels. No, wait! Make that “relatively unknown author whose books were best-sellers in certain quarters,” namely my mother’s bridge club.
But by night I am, by design, mind you, the equally unknown author whose nom de plume is (drum roll, please) Cooper Riverbridge …
not so great
Today, in his third act as President, (the first two are too embarrassing to mention) Donald Trump ended the treaty with the SunGod. He felt that others were not contributing their fair share of sacrifices to the SunGod. At today’s press conference, which was held in the complete dark due to the lack of a sun, Donald stated “America is for chumps if we are going to pay too much for sunlight! I’m not going to sacrifice one more smoking hot virgin that I could use in the Miss America pageant to some SunGod who isn’t an American…
minor celebrities matter
The first night of Donald Trump’s 2016 (Republican Party) Presidential Nominating Convention in Cleveland, Ohio provided more entertainment value than any in living memory. One after another former celebrities, practiced victims and assorted public figures took the stage to throw rhetorical raw meat at a seething pale audience.
Among the highlights were appearances by Marcus Luttrell and Scott Baio. Luttrell because he seemed to call for a civil war here in the United States when he asked, “Who among you are gonna step up and take the fight to the enemy? Because it’s here.”
BREXIT has elicited expressions of wounded outrage from European intellectuals emotionally invested in the current European Project. Some have contented themselves with name-calling by denouncing British voters as shortsighted bigots manipulated by conservative populists. Disappointment in the outcome of the referendum was so great for others that they have begun asking whether democracy itself might be the problem. If people, the British to be precise, are unable to see what is in their own best interests then perhaps …
mexico might take them
In cities across America – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and New Orleans – in stunning, giddy numbers, millions of Americans streamed into the streets to celebrate President Barack Obama’s executive order Wednesday calling for a “Texit” vote to expel Texas from the union.
The executive order came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law to limit the legal rights of women to abortions, and a week after the shocking “Brexit” vote in Great Britain to sever ties to the European Union.
With the 2016 Olympic Games on the horizon, a group of prospective participants are giving the whole business a snub. Golf is returning as an Olympic game after being away since the word sticks was an accurate description for the equipment being used. And many of the top professional players in the world have announced they will not attend. Most are citing the fear of the Zika virus and family concerns, and some are probably happy they have this as a built in excuse.
getting through it
Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way.
You probably recognize that verse from Jingle Bells — But it’s those last two lines, O’er the fields we go, Laughing all the way, that have always been for me a powerful image for having fun and living life to the max.
delicious summer weather
I’m a South Carolina native who grew up in Georgia, and I have lived in one of these two states most of my life except for two years in the Navy (during which I never saw a ship — a story for another time) and a misguided six months in California, land of fruits and nuts.
How bad was the golden state? Well, when I got back home I kissed the ground and vowed never again to leave the South except for visits, and only then with a copy of my birth certificate in hand to prove where I was from so I could be sure to get back in.
But I might have been a bit hasty in making that pledge. Two reasons: Iowa and Maine.
satire on the campaign trail
My brother and sister Americans, let me introduce myself: my name is Arturo Tad Semple. Fearing someone might think I liked longhair classical music, or read books, or attended foreign movies, or watched PBS, or was born in Italy or France, or god forbid, Kenya, I dropped the “Arturo” years ago in favor of just a simple, less confusing “A.” I hope this information makes it easier to understand why I am known as A. Tad Semple.
I prefer it that way. It is an unique name and is easy to remember. And it fits me.
As if I needed any further proof that I spend too much time on the Internet, I ran across an alarming article that describes a new fad – anus bleaching – which is popular among some rich, vain, mostly Hollywood women. And, no doubt, probably more than a few men.
(I won’t say what I was looking for when I found this outlandish website. That information is on a need-to-know basis.)
Hope y’all gits bit by a rabid ’coon
Johnny Depp has been generating a lot of free publicity back home in the US. Free for him that is – Australia is paying for it. You might remember that in April of this year Mr Depp and his wife, Amber Heard – or is it “then wife”, I don’t really follow what passes for the lives of film and TV stars – brought their two pampered mongs, Pistol and Boo, on a little jaunt to Australia where their daddy was filming yet another blockbuster aimed at children and adults under 15. Problem was…
Until a month ago I was a mobile phone virgin. I’d fooled around a little but my inexperience showed. In constant fear of making mistakes, I was timid, not in control. When we lived in the same town my son had given me a primitive mobile phone in an effort to keep in touch. Every few months when he or his wife needed to get hold of me to invite me for lunch or pick up a grandchild, the phone was invariably flat, turned off, in another handbag or glove compartment; frustrating for them.