Kenny Smith | blog

Thursday, May 31, 2007

And today I cleaned out the refrigerator. Slung things to and fro, blanched at the Best If Sold By dates on some of the condiments lurking in the back, nurturing, no doubt, their own cultures of multi-cellular organisms.

In one of the cabinets was a purchased, hidden and forgotten box of unopened cereal that might have prepared in the previous century. It is safe to say that I don't make it to the back of that cabinet often.

There's some hyperbole above. I'll leave it to you to find.

Talked with a neighbor today. There we stood, two guys in white t-shirts noticing the yard and talking tools. He was holding a daschund's lease, otherwise it would have been the proto-typical suburban scene. Maybe the daschund pushed it over the top. I don't know; trying to avoid thinking about daschunds as I do, I'm not sure where the socioeconomic qualities of that particular overgrown rat belongs when considering class standing.

That dog had a fine personality, and I love dogs, but this would be the least useful breed. I find poodles and beagles to have more redeeming value.

And I say this knowing that occasionally when I announce such a strong stance on something it ultimately becomes my reality. I could cite examples, but you can figure this out yourself: I say "No way I'd ever" and then two years later it is true. If anyone I ever know brings a daschund into my life I'll swat them both with a rolled up newspaper.

Pugs too.

I don't mean any of this, of course. Not really. I do prefer dogs that I have to pet to have an actual coat of hair. That shiny skin that the daschund is sporting is simply no fun to pet, that's all.

So all of the furniture is moved. The kitchen has been cleaned. I still have to straighten up the office and finish the library, but otherwise the Spring Cleaning Of Sorts of 2007 is finished.

Odds that I'll find new ways to say that sentence with various caveats over the next few weeks? Very high.

Watched Braveheart again tonight, which makes twice this month. Really that's too many violent amputations for one month when you come right down to it.

You also notice a lot more things in the movie, like loads of continuity errors. This movie won five Oscars and was nominated for several more, including Best Editing. I don't get into the Oscars, of course, since award shows are inherently facile and self-congratulatory, but I see that Apollo 13 won that award for 1996 and it is the better choice. The other nominees were Babe, Crimson Tide and Se7en. Off year for the Academy, no?

We musn't quibble with the movie too much, as the goofs page points out this was a "romantic fiction" and not a historical portrayal. So clearly things like the king dying as William Wallace was being executed are dismissed. There were a few years between separating those deaths. The French princess? She didn't even marry young Edward until after Longshanks was dead. Blue body paint was no longer en vogue, apparently kilts hadn't come along yet and the details of Wallace's demise are told differently here, but all of this is romantic fiction, so the moviemakers can get away with it.

So I overlook the continuity and the abandonment of history for a good narrative. The movie, after all, is based on a poem that was creative writing a century after the fact. I'll put aside the knowledge that what people see on a 50-foot screen they tend to believe as gospel, making inaccurate portrayals, even as part of a writer's truth, a dangerous weapon.

I'll choose to be bothered by the first big fight in the movie, the Battle of Stirling Bridge. First off: there's no bridge in the movie. Got in the way, Mel Gibson said. "Aye," the Scottish replied "that's what the English found."

You've taken away the key component to one of the key battles in Wallace's time on the field. In its place you have Gibson's Wallace telling the Scottish nobles to ride away and flank the English. Even in the 14th Century a flanking technique wasn't unusual, but in the movie this already basic technique creates a rout. What really happened at Stirling, historians say, is that conditions prevailed that allowed Scottish infantry to defeat English calvary. I'm no tactician, but I'm guessing that has to do with speed and the bottleneck created by the previously ommitted bridge.

Odds are also good that Wallace's real motivations had nothing to do with a woman, but this is Hollywood. If you're looking for biographical narratives, what is known and historically speculated about Wallace is far better than the movie. At Stirling the Scottish allegedly even skinned an English nobleman, and Wallace took enough to make himself a sword belt. Where's that in the movie?

The other thing that has always bothered me about the film is the chanting. First it is MacAulish, and then it is Wallace? Several forums, though nothing scholarly that I can find, indicate that MacAulish may be the loose equivalent of son-of-Wallace. Perhaps in the story we're to take that as a coming of age. Nothing like thrusting a deer's antler through another man's neck to mark your age of ascension I always say.

So, yeah, watching that twice in a month might be twice to many times.

I have two photographs to share with you. These will counterbalance the "eww!" from above with their own cuteness. There are kitty cats a-comin'! You've been warned.

First there's just the hanging aroundedness of this picture.

And then, since the lolcats have lately become all the rage, there's this. Yes, we're all ready for football.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Well the internet problem should be fixed now. The solution, on something like the fourth or fifth try, was to simply run another cable into the office through the existing location. Now the room is wired for a television and for high speed goodness. My recliner is also in there.

I may never leave.

Which means I should probably clean the room up a bit.

Also moved a big bookshelf upstairs from the basement into the new library. This involved moving some boxes out of the preferred route for the bookshelf, spilling some oil on the floor, sighing indignantly before cleaning that up and then beginning the move. But first everything on the bookshelf had to be boxed up, so there's some old pulp and hardbacks sitting neatly next to a few receipt books and some decorative bottles. Had to dust the thing, which was a considerable exercise seeing as how it'd been in the basement for a few years. Moved it upstairs, reset the shelves and walked it into the library. Where I left it for another day.

One day I'll have a real library. You'll walk into the room and instead of seeing shelves, or instead of seeing drywall, you'll see walls that are shelves. For now you would see mismatched shelves of various colors, styles and heights. It goes from walnut to cherry to blond, but it is a start.

This particular bookcase has been in the family pretty much my whole life. I recall watching my mother slide down a big set of stairs on the individual shelves when I was somewhere between two and four. I was terrified. And I was forced to slide down the steps too, making me even more terrified.

The memory makes me smile. I've always known that this was that bookshelf, but in pulling it upstairs by myself this evening I realized how fragile it really is. Not a big piece of furniture, it was probably cheap even in its day. The backing is wood paneling.

I can't imagine sliding down steps on these shelves. It must have been a slow ride, but in my mind's eye, the memory of it moves something like a roller coaster. Maybe I was risk adverse as a child, but I still can't see taking that ride. Those steps were in an apartment and on one side was the wall and the other a combination of wall and handrail. The handrail was probably wooden, and it would have probably hurt. Of course to a child at that age who saw this as a fast, bumpy ride on a big piece of sturdy furniture there were approximately 632 stairs, but the actual event could be easily created in my basement, today.

If I fell here I would just fall to the floor. The handrails are simply two pieces of wood attached at the top and bottom. The cement floor beneath it would make for asatisfying cold, solid smack. The shelves doesn't look that sturdy to older eyes; besides, I can't really imagine fitting on the things.

So I'll not be sliding. But that story of silly adventure always makes me smile.

I will be watching the last two episodes of Enterprise for the week. Here I learned far more about Vulcan sub-culture than I could have asked for. These types of episodes never did that much for me. These shows were supposed to be about humanity, our humanity. Details on the Vulcans and the Klingons and the like are important for their use as foils, but anytime enough familiarity is bred into a character you have to be careful what you show.

It is tricky, really, because we all know that any other planet with life and civilization would have complex societal dynamics, just as ours does. Showing them in a uniform way in a television program becomes insulting after a while, but spreading out the characters to create a body politick, a protaganist and antagonist can be incredibly difficult. Here we are to explore our own imagined narrative and we're given someone else's story which always reverts to us out of design, accident or metaphor.

They even nod to that here, in how the societies parallel with regard to their different pasts, but even here the two races' differences are cultivated through their sameness. Not so alien after all, are we? Oh, but we will be, because that's where conflict comes from. But we won't be, because we're allies. And that will cause tension and the audience will like it.

He said without irony, putting away his fake sociology degree.

One day I'll be forced to sit down and figure out what it is that I like about the Star Trek franchise. What I liked about it as a child is easy enough, but what has made it endure? I find myself being critical here of something I like and actually enjoy more often than not. And I do enjoy it, don't get me wrong. It would seem there is a disconnect, or a rip in the cosmos or something. Nothing a good burst of tachyons can't fix. But it should make for an interesting discussion, what is still enjoyable here? The next time I complain about needing something to write about, remind me of this. You know who you are.

Not you. You.

The Gloms are back. Here we're examining the yearbooks that would have belonged to my grandparents in their freshman year had they attended Auburn. A few weeks ago I finished the 1952, my grandmother's book, just in time for the project to go on a hiatus for the Spring Cleaning Of Sorts Project of 2007. Now the Glomerata project begins anew with the 1953 book, which would have been my grandfather's. Start here and surf on through. Eleven quick pictures to get you started. I'm proud to say there will be more next week, as I've missed this project.

For the past half year or so I've been collecting Gloms, I have about a third of the complete set, but they are mostly for my bookshelves and not for uploading. I'm going to ultimately finish that project with the freshmen books for my grandparents and my mother -- had they all attended Auburn -- and hold them up next to my freshman book. Through all of this we'll learned just how much can change over a half century in a place that measures generations in four and five year increments.

So the newspapers and the Gloms return all in one week. And remember: there are still a few other projects in the queue as well. Your dot org cup runneth over. Thanks for stopping by. We'll do it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Smokey again. At least you can't smell it today. You're nose and lungs will be caught unaware, then, of the good old carcinogens being absorbed by the simple act of being outside.

I'm not the guy that obsesses over germs and microbes, but this sort of thing could turn you into that guy. There was one simple rule, really: If I can smell the air, it is probably bad for me in some way. Corollary: If I can see the air, same diff.

Birmingham is a bowl, and rain and wind are currenly a no, so geography and meteorology are keeping this stuff with us. Somewhere in the early afternoon a lot of the haze and smoke blow away. It has been suggested that we all take our fans and point them to the southeast, telling Georgia and Florida what we think of their wildfires. If it would make a difference I would climb on the roof with an arm full of extension cords tomorrow. And I don't mean to sound ungrateful -- we didn't ask for the smoke, thanks -- but I can smell and see it from 200-plus miles away and you can see it from space. Must be real bad in Georgia and the Florida panhandle.

Futzed around with the internet and connectivity issues. We've eliminated cable and splitter from the list of potential problems. Knocked out a big mound of laundry and (in an effort to actually be productive) prepped more for tomorrow. Caught two episodes of Enterprise, which neatly wrapped up the Augments, the Eugenic Wars and gave us foreboding music as the ably excellent Brent Spiner decided maybe androids, rather than humanity, is where its at. The ominous music makes no sense since Spiner's character's son is the father of the charming hero Data, who was ably played by the always excellent Brent Spiner. Besides, we see all sorts of other races in the original series with ominous androids and they were almost always made to look comical in the end. But, if you have that symphonic group in the studio you better make them work. Strings! Give us something scary!

So there should be four more weeks before the SciFi channel has completed their sweep of the series. The next two weeks look to be fairly easily forgettable plots. Toward the end it picks up a bit, but it will all be melancholy, considering the demise of the show. On the other hand, that'll be four hours of the week I'll get back. Until something else comes on that I simple must see. But all that is way ahead of myself, there are still two more hours to watch tomorrow.

But that is tomorrow and tonight is Denny Crane.

I missed a segment, but basically what I missed was Jerry "Hands" Espenson who I'm already tired of, again, picking up a case against a casino that would make even the most litigious states blush. That would get settled out of court. I also missed seeing Brad and Denise presenting their child, but I don't really care about that storyline just now. If the writers can't find compelling things for interesting characters they'll just keep withering in transition scenes.

Basically I care about Alan Shore and Denny Crane at this point. They could make me care about others, but there's just not a lot of story for them. Meanwhile Alan and Denny are representing two kids charged with shooting their father. It starts off suddenly and solemnly. Apparently they're going to be convicted and even Super Flamingo Attorneys can't solve the problem. Not even with the help of a mother willing to commit perjury while casting blame on herself so that her children may go free. Desperate times call for television hocus pocus and all that, so the two brothers turn on one another, rolling over for the judge and the jury in open court.

Or do they? Apparently Denny and Alan are in on the whole thing. The prosecutor is wise to it, summing the whole thing up as parlor games in an attempt to reach reasonable doubt and, therefore, a not guilty plea. I'd have loved to sit on this jury, just so we could go to conference and I could say, "Look, did you see how the two young kids just calmly sat next to one another after they'd each pointed the finger at the other? Don't you think if your sib did that to you there'd be a fight over the defendant's table? Guilty, your honor."

But, being a television show, being Alan and Denny -- who was rightly and passionately concerned that his career-long undefeated streak would end in this case -- and being the season finale, they won and both young men were freed. Ho-hum.

What will they do next season? Even the characters don't know, as they sit on the balcony for their epilogue, but Denny's just getting started, and the audience is getting the finish with a nice shot of a scotch and a cigar. See you next season!

Season three had a few bright spots, but I doubt I'll be telling you about adding it to the DVD collection any time soon.

On the site things are getting back to normal, despite a few connection problems. The newspapers make their return today. If you're new to all this, we're taking a quick look at some of the more historic front pages of The Birmingham News from a little book they published a quarter of a century ago. With tonight's installments we're squarely into the mid-1920s. You can read more on the details and start from the beginning here. Or, if you've been following along and eagerly awaiting the return of this feature, you may pick up where we left off here.

Thanks for stopping by today. As always, I appreciate your visit. Make sure to come back tomorrow as the Glomerata feature is also due to make a triumphant return as we begin our examination of 1953 Auburn.

Monday, May 28, 2007

What a day, what a Memorial Day. Normally I spend this day doing what Americans do best: camped in front of the television where I watch war movies until the sun goes down. In truth, this is one of those days that seems more important the older you get, the importance as a holiday grows as you do, to the point that it becomes hard to commemorate in a way that is reciprocal to what gave you this day and all these many blessings. Magnitude can be near-paralyzing.

Today I worked for a while and played for a while and never really noticed the television.

So there was work, and that was the usual amount of fun. Initially I had Memorial Day off, but swapped it with last Friday so that I could get things done before the true weekend began. That turned out to be a very wise choice and simplified the Friday and Saturday o' Physical Labor mightily. So this morning I was at the office, bright and early, for a few minutes at least the only person in the building. By the afternoon when it was time to go home there'd probably only been four people here all day. Usually it is a mid-day struggle to find parking.

Holidays are easy, in a way. There's not a lot going on. They are frequently slow and occasionally lazy. Even the bad guys take the holiday weekend off. That or we just don't feel the need to cover them as much. I'm never sure which. But today was one of those slow days. It did, however, involve typing. A lot of typing.

At home there was a little bit of housework and then company. Brian, Elizabeth and Taylor came over for a barbeque. We made hamburgers and hot dogs and had all the various accessories of a summer holiday: beans, potato salad, fruit, cookies and more.

Brian and I set about fixing the cable upstairs. And by "Brian and I" I of course mean Brian. Seems that I'd outsmarted myself on the upstairs rooms, he fixed it in about 20 minutes. One splitter too many and about 14 cables too many. As always, he was impressed with the unhandy work, laughed and solved the problem. We then got the internet back up and running. Pretty simple, really, once the cable was back in place, though it is being spotty for some reason. I can be online once again at home. My lovely, precious internet. How I've missed you for the past 24 or so hours.

Taylor kept us all amused with zany four-year-old antics. She's a great kid, full of fun and laughter and very outgoing, but she hit her wall at the end of the evening. While I'm a frequent visitor to that wall -- and why must we hit it so? -- she's a good reminder of why I'm not in a hurry to have a four-year-old.

She also called me "Grandpa" a lot. The first two, I think, were accidents. After that she was just doing it on purpose. I haven't noticed the resemblance between the three of us, especially considering they have a few decades on me. They're nice men and you could be in worse company, so I choose to take her slip up as a compliment rather than a statement about my age.

After the gang left, there was furious internet activity, Email to compose, pages to read, pictures to upload, there was a lot to catch up on. Started watching the evening's four-episode dose of Enterprise, but couldn't make it through. Tomorrow then.

Tonight a few notes. Don't think I mentioned this, but I recently did a podcast with Jeane Goforth who does an "off the beaten path" travel blog. Good stuff on her blog, and a few more suggestions in the podcast for places you can go on the cheap. If that's your sort of thing, this is the podcast for you. Hadn't previously read Jean, but going into her archives it is clear that we'd visit the same types of places. Elsewhere, I won the 'Top Gun' award on OTB's caption contest. And, finally, the newspapers are coming back tomorrow!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Today, the return of the deli sandwich lunch and the longest baseball game ever. Ever.

This was the SEC championship game. Auburn wasn't invited, Alabama was eliminated early and the final game matched the top two seeds, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. Vandy, it should also be noted, is the top-ranked team in the nation. They're good.

And they'll kill you with singles and doubles, hitting rockets down the line until you shift and then they just poke balls through the middle.

Didn't help that Arkansas was over-thinking the game, coaching every little thing from the bench. That only added six hours to the game.

There's not much sarcasm there. Vanderbilt scored four in the first, led early by Dominic de la Osa, who doubled and scored. and Arkansas put one on the board. We were on pace for a nine hour ball game.

Arkansas' starting pitcher gave up four runs on five hits in only an inning of work, which brought on Chris Rhoads who, despite looking all of 12 years old from the stands, is a senior. He kept Arkansas in the game, despite a struggling defense behind him.

Shea Robin, Vandy's catcher, got beaned by this ball in the third, but that didn't hurt the Hogs. In the fourth David Macias was called out on this play, but the photograph shows where the umpire missed this one. Third baseman Logan Forsythe was clearly pulled off the bag. Had the play been called correctly, Macias would have scored on one of two passed balls.

Rhoads was pulled in the seventh. Clearly dejected, he should have walked off the mound with pride. It was a 4-1 game and the Commodores were threatening to bust the thing wide open when he came on, but it was only 5-3 when he left. One more run in the seventh would go to him, but he had a solid outing in long relief against the best team in the country.

Vandy pretty much sealed the deal in the 8th, when pinch runner Matt Willard was thrown out by the left fielder to end the eighth. The Razorbacks would not threaten again, as Vanderbilt won 7-4 in a game that ran over three-and-a-half hours.

And for that we were all glad that the game started at 3 p.m. rather than noon, because baking in the sun for the duration of the game would have been unpleasant. As it was, the sun was behind the stadium before the third inning.

Later, there was an uneventful trip for Mexican, rearranging the furniture in the new office and getting ready for work on Memorial Day, tomorrow. I had a three day weekend and it has wrapped up nicely. It's always a good weekend when you can make it to the park. Hope you're having as much fun on your weekend as I am.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

It was not like this, but today should have been.

That is all.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ended up taking today off. I volunteered for Memorial Day, so this is my comp. Instead of a six day week this week I'll have two confused but normal five day weeks in a row. It'll all work out in the end, the time sheets will be out of whack, but otherwise the schedules have played out just fine, thank you.

So, on my day off I got up near the normal time. By 6 a.m. I was already hard at work. Cleaned out one half of the basement and prepared a big load of things to go to a donation drop off. On the upside, there's only one room left to clean. Also on that upside: that room is waiting a while.

Basically exhausted myself before 9 a.m., with a lot more of the day to make it through.

Other things we learned today: those big tractor-trailers that you sometimes see in retail parking lots? The Hannah Home guy said it'd take a week or two for him to collect enough donations to fill it up. I gave him a sofa and about 13 bags of clothes and mismatched household items. The trucks that drive through your neighborhood accepting donations? They get stopped by people not on their list for the day all the time. Did that today, too. They say they'll fill their truck up in a day -- it is much smaller, of course -- and if they do they'll just pick up a new truck and start again.

While I was talking to him two other people in that neighborhood came up with spontaneous donations.

Pie Day, then, the last with our friend Gary. We finally got the man to hint at a few stories of his own, so we have no further use of him. Not really. Brian got to meet him, Gary brought his drink of choice without having to take his order -- psychic waiter! -- and then he feed us all very well. Our friend Christy came up to join us for pie. She should come by more often. Lots of fun.

And that's about as fun as today was: hot, sweaty, moving things and then pie. But it is over. A productive and not-lazy-at-all way to spend an off day.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

One room is done. The desk has been moved, the furniture dusted, the bookshelf evacuated, the comfortably overstuff chair placed just so. The clutter is removed and the room is done. The door is closed.

Of course I'll have to reopen the door to go in later to clean out the closet, but for now I'm going to hide behind the thinnest of technicalities and suggest that the closet is another room altogether. I could use a win just now.

Another room is almost done. The clutter is all boxed up. My computer is still in the old room and needs to be moved to the new room, but that will be this weekend or next week. One closet is cleaned out, with three to go. A bunch of clothes are ready to be donated. When the basement is slightly more organized -- tomorrow's project -- the boxes of things will go down there for temporary storage. This has turned into logisitical maneuvers that would be recognizable to anyone who's ever dealt with military and/or bureaucracy.

Minus the closets, however, I'm through upstairs. The downstairs is as done as it can be for now. I moved that bookshelf, things went well until the third step when gravity remembered to be irrefutable. So I reshaped some boxes for book storage. This bookshelf has been reassigned to Glomerata duty. Its a handsome brown bookshelf of the Quaker style that looks nice and rich and old, so the Gloms fit. And they just barely fit. On the other hand, they take up all the space. New Gloms will be homeless until I figure out a solution.

I'm warming up to the library idea and am afraid you're going to hear a lot about that as it grows, but that's going to be a fun project.

Which leaves the basement, the arch-nemesis.

Shouldn't be that bad. If I don't procrastinate too much. Did some of that today: had the traditional chicken sandwich meal at Zaxby's with my friend the Smithsonian Magazine. After that a visit to Wal-Mart, as stimulating as ever, for some household staples. After that the UEFA Cup replay on ESPN, Milan wins. That second goal was beautiful.

After that, more cleaning. I'm ready for more fun projects. The website has been neglected, but that should come to an end starting next week. Which is good; the storytelling around here has suffered because of all of this. Spring Cleaning Of Sorts '07, though, is winding down.

But I am not. Wide awake. Yesterday's nap and today's caffeine seem to be conspiring against me. I must at least take a stab at getting some sleep at some point though.

Site note: Like the new background? That's the World Financial Center in Manhattan last fall on a very cold morning from the Hudson River. We were on the cruise to see the Statue of Liberty. She was an amazing sight -- yet another one of those things I'd just never really imagined myself getting that physically close to it -- the whole trip down the Hudson was worth it, there were great views and shots at every turn.

Which opens the door to revisit a lot of old photographs in background form. Feel the excitement!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Old timers will tell you about a time when you couldn't see the skyline here. When the blue of the sky was actually the brown of industrial progress. Before the government came, tightened up on air quality and when the life expectancy was a bit lower because of the stuff you were, you know, breathing. This was an industrial city that has given way to a center of health industry, biotech and white collar endeavors.

This afternoon, though, looked about as bad as I can recall.

There was a fire just off the interstate in one of the little towns that I must drive through to make it home from work. We climbed on the roof to see if we could see the smoke, but instead we saw a world of white. The smoke from the fire, which was being broadcasted live and commented on by the local talking heads couldn't be seen because of this other smoke that was just everywhere. An incredible haze hangs over everything.

On top of our building, though, I found a great old ghost sign. That's of our building, the name which they've retained -- all of the buildings down here in historic Pepper Place have retained their old names. The brief history: Edgar Martin began a cracker company at the turn of the 20th Century and soon moved to this location. Through its many owners the company made biscuits, cookies, crackers and candy before closing in the 1940s. It became a warehouse for a drug company, which added our part of the building in 1958.

For that photo I'm standing on the "new" annex and looking at the back wall of the old building. No one except roof workers and air conditioning men have seen that sign for almost 50 years.

See the white sky in the background? Smoke.

When I drove by the location of this local fire -- a used auto parts place with a huge pile of tires in the back waiting to burn -- I couldn't see the black smoke of that fire because of this other stuff. Whatever's causing this smoke -- possibly the wildfires in Georgia -- will stick around. Birmingham sits in a geographical bowl, and nothing moves out easily without a storm front or some wind and things are just deathly still right now.

So the next unearthly experience shouldn't have been so surprising.

I met a street corner, parking lot evangelist who might have been a little crazed by the haze or the heat or his ideas. He was talking about dogs and t-shirts and the weight of the world and practicing the art of prayer. He wanted you to know that, if you do it today and everyday, it is easier than just picking it up in some desperate moment when you felt you needed to talk to the Almighty. Practice makes perfect when it is just like riding a bicycle. The whole thing was very dreamlike, and you got the impression that if you stayed around for much more conversation you'd be dizzied by it all.

And I would have stayed, too, because I'm curious like that, but I've already been on the roof of the building and the smoke is a little off-putting. Anything that can stay this coherent and ominous after floating 250 miles west deserves some respect and healthy distance.

And that's pretty much it for the day. There was the usual; a little television, a little nap, a little housework and the neglect of fun projects. There's also a light at the end of the tunnel. In keeping with the theme of this paragraph, however, it is little.

But it is growing.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Another beautiful day at the time of year when it becomes pablum to even mention it. Spring and summer are here simultaneously, as they often appear. In a few days they'll merge seamlessly, spring will retire, having down its share of work for the year and the sun will begin its task of zealously boring holes into exposed skin. Around Memorial Day the forecast calls for the upper 80s, so it won't be long now.

Sorta makes you long for autumn already, doesn't it?

Easy day today. Mondays are always easy. We were talking this morning about Monday being the day of the week when your alarm was loudest, when you cursed it most. That was Sunday for me this week. Waking up at 4 a.m. on the weekend seems pretty abhorrent. You should at least still be in bed when the sun comes up, that's my rule of thumb. But there I was, groggy and moving. So following that with today wasn't so bad. This is my Tuesday, two of six in a row. We'll adjust, adapt, overcome. Oorah.

Stopped by the package store for boxes. The nice lady there seemed stunned I didn't want any of her fine products, but rather just their means of storage during conveyance. I'll soon be doing a little storage myself, you see. Chose the collapsed boxes, thinking I could tape them up and that way grab more boxes today. On the way home it seemed a good to pick up the actual tape that would be useful to that end. What followed was a 40 minute odyssey into Wal-Mart which I could describe, but I've found that every trip into Wal-Mart is described in pretty much the same way. But if Homer (the poet, not the cartoon character) had a Wal-Mart at his disposal, oh the epic poetry he could recite then.

So tape and a few food items later I'm on my way home. Where I find that I must once again rest my aching foot. Considering where the pain is and how it flares up I'm going to call it turf toe. Remember kids: never self-diagnose.

Took a brief 33 minute nap. The assignment of time there is arbitrary, but it felt brief and I was both tired and yet strangely refreshed when I rolled off the sofa.

Took the last of the big heavy pieces and put it in its temporary storage today. Yesterday it made it from the upstairs onto the common floor. And I let it sit there overnight, having thought better of moving it down the larger flight of stairs. The short flight was time-consuming enough, having chosen to walk it down each individual step. There were a few more concerns about the longer flight of stairs and repeating that same process didn't seem safe with regard to Proper Furniture Control.

OSHA's cracking down on that, as I'm sure you've heard.

So this afternoon I found myself tipping the piece on its side and sliding it down that long set of stairs. It truly went fast, but controlled. I was at the bottom of the stairs, with only three more steps to negotiate in the traditional walking method, before I really even realized what I was doing. Naps tend to have more lingering cobwebs than a full night of sleep for me, and so we'll blame the nap.

Turns out the solution my sleeping mind came up with was incredibly effective and efficient. The last big hulking piece -- we'll call it an oversized chest -- is now in its assigned storage area and without any damage to the piece, the house or the mover.

I can't believe I moved that thing by myself.

While dinner cooked -- a cajun rice and italian sausage thing I just invented on the fly -- I vaccuumed, pronouncing two thirds of one floor now officially complete in the Spring Cleaning Of Sorts '07 campaign. Tomorrow I'll put together those boxes and -- hopefully quickly -- wrap up two more rooms.

But now it is time for dinner -- which I decided would probably be a mistake, but turned out surprisingly yummy -- and the conclusion of the most occasionally exciting soap opera on Fox. I began worrying that the etouffee would overpower and ruin the Italian sausage I'd thrown in the sauce pan, but like Jake Bauer, the etouffee only did the minimal to impress me this time around.

Two hours of Bauer, then. And I'm vacillating between "Dear God let it stop," and "Come on Jack do something cool now" because I've given up on "Two hours! This will rule!"

Turns out I was smart to give up on that. And the let it stop seems pretty appropriate. We've been discussing this, my fellow 24 watchers and I, and it basically comes down to this: you blew up a city in a nuclear way and made a sappy touchy family story the second half of your show. To start the day Jack emerged from a Chinese prison, got the best shave of his life and then bit a man's neck off. Later he would engage in a terrific fight scene to kill the ultimate terrorist of the season.

Only to find out that the Chinese are back, the Russians want to attack America over their own security problems and Jack's dad is a mean, mean man in the Disneyian sense.

Also, lately, I'm pretty sure this turned into Dynasty with the occasional weapon being brandished. There's been no torture, no neck biting or drugging of bad guys. We're out for vengenance after that nuclear bomb went off. Jack and the people in his world are out to cultivate scenes with sappy string music.

Chloe Morris looks thin and pale, doesn't feel good and passes out. I'm calling it pregnancy. Jack lingered just a little too long in the room with her earlier in the day.

Meanwhile there's yet another sub-sub-sub plot with a tertiary character that no one cares about. The whole place is like Dynasty, now, Chloe is pregnant, Jack is remorseful, but not about killing his father. "I felt nothing!" In order to protect her he's *sniff* leaving his girlfriend. Because, in the end, as the former SecDef, and his girlfriend's father said, "Everything you touch dies." Or something like that. Clearly that guy is in Jack's head. And now Jack is standing on a cliff and there's water below and ... and ... tick ... tock ... tick ... tock.

The creative team of the show has been feeling the pressure. They know the numbers are off and the audience is dissatisfied. They've said that changes are coming and said that the finale, tonight, would drastically change the direction of the show. This wasn't a cliffhanger, but rather a nice tidy little ending with little bows on top. The only uncertainty is what Jack does on that cliff and you know he's not jumping. That'd make the next 23 hours of the new season a little awkward. Possibly they've just spent the past 24 minutes developing closure and effectively writing off the supporting cast. If that's their strategy it could be both good and challenging for the next season. Some of these characters are rather tedious, but on the other hand, new characters won't carry the same import for many fans.

Where they go from here is anyone's guess. I'm just hoping for Ricky Schroder's spinoff. And I'm not the only one. He's clearly got what it takes to stand around and look simultaneously brooding and scared for an hour a week. However, as he told Jack tonight "It blew." In so many ways, Spoons, in so many ways.

Hardly the ending I wanted, though that final off-the-medication confrontation looked like the Jack that the internet writes songs about. Jack no doubt shot a couple dozen guys through the course of his day in the classic Bond sense, but after the biting the throat out of one guy in the morning and the hanging by chain in the early afternoon it has been rather unremarkable.

I just wrote a sentence that implied Vampire-Jack and Hangman-Jack is not enough. We are a bloodthirsty lot when it comes to this show, aren't we? Not that you'd want to try and bite out the neck of a man who was torturing you. You'd better hope it works, or now you've just ticked him off. Or he may just lean back, laugh and gurgle, "Ha. Joke's on you. I have many blood-borne diseases." Talk about ruining your afternoon.

But ultimately this show's audience wants more. The killing off 12,000 innocents in the early going tends to do that. Taking it the family-route for the last quarter of the day doesn't really satisfy.

Four episodes of Enterprise after that. No, I'll not go on about the details. Thanks to the TiVo I made it through four hours of programming in three, once again displaying why it is so EvIl.

These are the first four episodes of the fourth and final season. The first two are an alternate timeline in the past and while I usually enjoy those for the camp and the historical treatment I have a hard time getting into these because it is too Harry Turtledove. The Nazis are in New England, you see, and aided by some devilish aliens from the 29th Century. All this happened because, in this timeline, someone killed Lenin and Russia never went communist. I'd like to offer you an actual hook on which to hang this show, but I'm too busy laughing at how this is the lazy explanation for the situation.

Naturally the overwhelmed, outgunned and out of time and place 22rd Century humans easily defeat them. This is convenient Trek cannon at its finest and most frustrating. In the next episode there is a lot of talking. Seriously. Scott Bakula's character has a dream and that's the most action you get. After that there's a little shouting, but that's kept to a minimum. And in the fourth episode the writers called Brent Spiner and asked him if he could bring some of those Baked Lays and ratings when he came over to play Arik Soong, the grandfather of a character that created the android character, Data, that made Brent Spiner famous. So the guy that played the android is now playing his biological great-grandfather. That's good television, proving once again that this series got the short end of the stick.

He'll also be back for two more episodes next week. Hopefully they'll be good as well.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Question: Who's approval ratings are lower than the president's?

Answer: Congress!

And after all of the blowback from last week's immigration bill that'll continue on both sides.

People are miffed by the process and the proposed solution. I won't get into the details here because you can read all about the Z visa and the go back clause and fines elsewhere. But that's going to look soft.

There's a reason voters in Hazelton, Pennsylvania gave mayor Lou Barletta the primary nomination for both parties. The mayor, a Republican, got a law passed that will penalize landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and businesses that hire them. That's the sort of thing a lot of people want to see. People want change and the initial reaction about this legislation from Washington isn't what they were looking for. Too soft, they would say.

Now. Is it soft? There's a big difference in what you'd like to do and what you can realistically do (both politically and logistically). The current proposal isn't great, far from it, but there are limits in our present reality. Perhaps enforcing laws presently on the books would be a good place to start, but that's been ignored for years. Meanwhile one half of your political class is seeking cheap labor and the other half would like easy votes. This amnesty bill is what they came up with. Compromise, as they say, is the name of the game.

Doesn't mean you'll be happy about it. That's the part I'm interested in observing. What will come of the public and voter disenchantment? Some of those answers will come soon, but some will be threaded into our society and culture over time. We'll find out together over the next decade or so, I suppose.

Work today, so an early morning this morning. I passed a red glowing sign that announced it was 37 degrees. Consulting the date at the top of this post I can confirm that it is, in fact, mid-May. I assure you that temperature was valid for Alabama. Meanwhile the global warming guys are struggling today to come up with another new name for their raison d'etre.

Today, though, has turned out beautiful, despite the chilly start. A big spread of blue skies, there hasn't been a cloud in a few days -- and while a significant amount of rain would be nice -- the weather's been of the stunning wish you were here postcard variety. So naturally I'm stuck inside.

First there was work, and then there was a nap and finally there was cleaning.

All evening the two sides of my brain have been at odds: it is an off day, but I worked. I have the day off, but I must return to work tomorrow and it will be the second of six days in a row.

And these are the things around which my troubles revolve. That and moving stuff. I'm redesigning three rooms, there has been a great deal of moving furniture around, but I'm coming to the end of that phase of the project now. There's only two more pieces in the house to be moved, and one more piece from those three rooms to be stored. Doing this as a solo project, as has been previously noted, takes a lot of time, grunting and sometimes despair.

It also resembles those annoying plastic tile challenge games from your youth. You remember the little sliding tile game with eight pieces and you had to move them around the square to make the correct picture? Well spatial dynamics wasn't my strongest point then and that skill is still a bit limited, but somehow I've managed to do this much and without hurting myself too bad. I did put a small ding in one wall though. Hardly noticeable unless I pointed it out to you.

So tonight a bed got moved. More accurately a bed frame. I've been instructed to keep the mattresses and defend them as if they were of historical importance. I have to keep all these things, but I'm at a loss where to put the mattresses just now. Elsewhere a big furniture piece made it halfway to its destination tonight, but I chickened out on the final flight of stairs. Discretion is the better part of valor, there's always tomorrow and so on.

In tonight's victory lap, however, I moved my recliner into the new office. When it was finally installed a quality assurance check felt appropriate, so I sat under my newly installed ceiling fan and, yes, they both work nicely, thank you.

And now, after the impromptu workout and the blissfully sinful nap I'm wide awake again. This'll no doubt make for a long night and a longer tomorrow.

But the heavy lifting is primarily done. Tomorrow I'll stop by a few stores and get some boxes for random storage purposes. A few more obvious things will be donated soon, but otherwise I'll try the storage box technique where you put things away somewhere and if you don't use them by such-and-such a time you move them on to their great reward with another happy owner.

Tune in this week while I race to get some of this box (and then yard) work done so I can actually enjoy the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Don't hold me to it, but I'm fantasizing about baseball and a grill.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Had brunch at Meehan's again, but this time for probably the last time. Any morning anywhere could be a last experience of something; better take it all in while you can.

That isn't meant to sound fatalistic, or as if I'm dissatisfied with the service; it simply likely that I won't be in this area for brunch again any time soon.

Another beautiful late morning sun, another fine day to sit out under the clouds and the shade of ivy growing across the porch. It might be my last visit here, but it wasn't a melancholy experience, for reasons purely its own. I was torn, in my last known meal somewhere should I get the omelette that I've enjoyed here before, or should I enjoy the traditional sun-dried tomato turkey burger?

After who knows how many visits to the place they finally mustered up someone willing to work the table. And he did so in the sort of way that in other conversations you'd assume he's hinting at some tip your overlooking. But I was full of omelette and potato and bangers and tea. I was full of tea. Clearly it was time for the check.

It was delicious tea, though.

But the whole transaction just went on too long. It did allow us to see two dogs welcomed into the restaurant, more yuppie children than you can shake a stick at and guys dining with Guinness before noon. This, I think, is what Saturday mornings are made for.

After brunch, and the long lingering time while the waiter stalled while technicians flew in to repair the receipt printer, it was almost time for dinner. Or a nap. That sounded more reasonable, so nap it was. Saturdays, I think, were also made for these.

Never really shook off that nap, though. Ended up by a pool reading while two groups of separately loud people decided to join forces and run off the two sections of the pool guarded by quiet people. The quiet ones on the other side left, the two loud groups, full of largesse and sun burned skin, bragged on this and that and their mortgages and their friends condos and talked to one another while playing two different stereos. They were an odd group, five and sometimes six guys and one girl. Some of the gentlemen should have left their shirts on for asethetic reasons, one or two of the others are probably regretting their clothing decision by now. The shade chased them together and would ultimately chase them away altogether. After that it seemed important to sit for a few minutes and just read in the quiet.

These were also the guys desperately trying to fit in with the tribal arm band tatoo and the various stages of facial hair. Normally I wouldn't come to such conclusions, but as I said, I was still working on my nap and these guys were loud. Oh, and Mr. Portly Man, if it wasn't funny, interesting or evocative the first time you said it then odds weren't so good for the next four times you tried. I would spend the next three hours repeating words Mr. Portly Man said. Not because it was interesting or funny, but rather because it was circling in my head, much like a catchy song lyric.

After that The Yankee and I had dinner at a place called My Cousin Vinny's. We were sat next to a nice couple and I couldn't tell which of them worked at the local college, but odds were that at least one of them was. That's not implied in a mean way, but seven years of postsecondary education allows you to spot the professors from a distance.

We were holding forth on a very sarcastic conversation on Italian food that probably made look like a jerk in the neoclassic sense. I rhapsodized on the lasagna, why you'd never go to a high end restaurant or to somewhere in Italy, let's say, and order the lasagna for a variety of reasons, the least of which being that it is a fairly basic, but delicious, dish.

And then I ordered the lasagna.

The waiter asked for my salad dressing preference and I indicated that I'd take the house, a rather delightful sounding raspberry vinagerette. The Yankee said I probably wouldn't like that, and so the waiter and the nice professorial couple now hear me being told what I'd like to eat for dinner. She was right. I generally try the house if it is something exotic sounding, and raspberry vinagerette sounded the part. Only I don't like vinagerette to begin with, so now everyone in the kitchen is laughing at me being told what to eat.

We struck up a conversation with the professors, over cameras. They were both very nice and knew their shutterbuggery. He wore his gray curls in a little pompadourish afro, which distracted from his nice shirt, tennis shoes look he was aiming at. I pegged him to be a sociologist, or an art professor. The hair made you think of Bob Ross. His wife was very emphatic. The food was exactly what they wanted. It was a great camera and so on. Were it not for that I would have guessed her to be an english professor. English 101 and Beginning Composition, no doubt. Now, though, I'm not so sure.

The Italian dressing ended up being both topical and delicious, thank you very much. The lasagna was nice, as well.

Afterward, cookies! (It will not be the last time for those.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Met some nice new people today. I limped around -- thanks foot -- but it is getting better, and in the process met Doug Gillett. Nice guy, very funny. Utterly shocked that I felt the need to tell him I read his blog. We've Emailed maybe twice, but this face to face thing was just too much for the guy. It just fell out of my mouth, when I heard his name.

Is that right, why I read your blog. Congratulations old chum on a fine electronic effort.

That's how I'm going to remember it anyway.

Later in the day I realized the funnier thing to do would have been to say nothing and then, as I prepared to leave, just kept saying Hey Jenny Slater. Hey Jenny Slater. Hey Jenny Slater, much like Jeremy Piven. It would have been a nice touch. As always, I'm more brilliant eight hours removed from something than in the actual moment.

Spent a few of those moments this afternoon outside in the idle evening sun taking photographs. I'll share one with you.

I found some nice ivy in the sun and shadows, but by the time I could make my way there the moment was gone. In its place, however, was a ladybug sunning.

Can exoskeletons get sunburns? She looked pretty orange to me.

Tonight at Pie Day two more people were intiated. They were friends of The Yankee's and couldn't stop commenting on how the place smelled so good. Between tonights group we managed to have each item represented on the menu, I think. And had a nice chat about band-aids and cancer. Enjoy your pie! The woman was a nurse, if I'm not mistaken, and they're never shy about telling good stories. Time and place, though, time and place.

Nice people. They seemed to enjoy their pie and that makes a total of 22 people (if my count is accurate) that have been brought into the seedy subculture of Pie Day. Speaking fo seeds, there was one in the slice of lemon tonight. And while feeling satisfied with that level of authenticity, I could rest comfortably through the rest of the weekend, abbreviated though it will be.

This evening, I'm reading about Kelly's review of the chocolates I gave her for her graduation. She loves Godiva, you see, but has no store in the bustling metropolis that is Huntsville. Suits me fine, her interdependence grows with every golden box I deliver.

So she's reviewing these chocolates each day, and I must say that the chocolate is bringing out the wordsmith in here. There's even a really, really atrociously good Shatner reference in today's review, but beyond that the chocolate tales are worth the read. You're hooked right from the first review, where she details something called Cinnamon Blush:
Wow.*ggggg- lllllllllllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh* Don't worry, that was the sound of my face melting onto the desk in sheer joy.
Kelly will also point you to a news story about a former classmate of hers who's recovering from perhaps the most ridiculous of surgeries, wherein doctors had to give her six organ transplants. For a couple of years now the friend has been dealing with this and has recently returned home from Miami where some of the procedures were done, prompting the local NBC affiliate to trot out their reporter.

The text and the video there are the same, but clicking the video will give you one of the most weak and ridiculous camera shots you could ever hope to see out of local media.

Then the reporter talks about this "gutsy gal" and the "gut wrenching" procedure that saved her life. To Liz Hurley I would say: You're a part, in this case, of what sometimes embarrasses the rest of us about reporters. The off-color jokes of questionable taste serve an important purpose as a coping mechanism for a lot of people, but are for off-air. You're doing it in front of the camera as a pun. A pun where one young woman almost lost her life, is still fighting for it and where another boy's death made her survival possible. Your puns, you might say, are something the rest of us don't want to stomach.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Getting off my feet was a relief. I counted the steps from the car to a prone position this afternoon, such is my pain. It seems I've purchased the dress shoes that look snazzy in a reasonably conservative way and then, because they like you, decide to dislodge and manipulate one or several of the small bones in your foot.

This has been troubling me since the end of last week. It gets better for a while and then I do something to aggravate it. It stops aching for a while and suddenly it is difficult to apply the brake.

When you're down to left foot driving you might want to rethink your footwear.

So I'll give those shoes a rest for a bit. Knowing full well that the lifting, turning and pivoting with extra weight in hand while moving furniture hasn't helped. C'est la pieds.

I collapse onto my inflatable mattress because it was the first horizontal resting appartus I came across. I tried to watch a bit of television, got about 40 minutes into something forgettable and fell asleep. A few hours later, now, I'm awake. My nap seems to have been for about 45 minutes, but one must add the post-nap grogginess to the sum total. It was ultimately long enough to make me rehape my day just a bit.

Some of the housework got put on hold, then.

"Good," my foot sad.

No, bad I replied.

With waves of a mild stabbing pain my foot told me who was boss. So I've limped upstairs.

There was some laundry in there. And pizza. I watched Bull Durham for the 1,264th time and am dismayed at what they cut for the television runtime. You cut Sixty Minute Man and the mound conference for more Noxema commercials? Really?

So now, sitting at the computer we must once again remember to take advantage of the mid-afternoon nap: I'm wide awake.

It is pushing midnight and I'm not even yawning. Maybe in an hour or two.

Fortunately I don't have to work tomorrow. I'll be sleeping in until the absolutely decadent time of 7 a.m. A little insomnia, then, won't hurt. But still, I should try.

Just nothing with the foot.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The afternoon, in a nutshell: Grunt. Lift. Wheeze. Wipe sweat from brow. Be too fascinated by a new tool. Hurt something in a comical way. Consider new ways that can hurt yourself out of desperation to get the job done. Sweat. Breathe really hard. Consider sponsoring legislation mandating wider door frames and exactly how far about doors must be from one another.

So there's that.

Yesterday I'd wanted to move a desk. Or, rather, part of a desk. That meant taking it apart and since I don't have that specific type of screwdriver made only in Laos in 1982-1987 I had to go out and find one. That was today. So, at Lowes, I'm wondering where they sell the actual, you know, tools.

They have a section called Tool World. In this particular Lowes it is somewhat small, and hidden away from the main entrance. The curiously lost expression didn't earn the attention of a helpful attendant until I'd found Tool World and then she wouldn't leave me alone to find my screwdriver in peace.

"Need help?"


"Sure you don't need any help?"

Think I got it.

"Well if you need any help --"

An uncomfortable silence followed and hiding behind the peace and tranquility of the hexagonal screwdrivers -- of which there are many -- couldn't solve the problem.

Finally I found what I needed, the square end screwdriver. A manager saw me move to the cash registers and opened one, and announced it on the P.A., just for me. I didn't know this was for me at the time, until he came over to the next register to apologize for someone beating me to it. I was fine in this second line, until things move slowly and I go back to that line, my line. But someone else beats me to it again. This becomes a dance of the honeybees, only no one knows what we're communicating.

The manager, in his so overly helpful it is a little annoying manner of the suburbs, is eager to get me out of the store. I'm eager to get home and try this new Laotian screwdriver. Finally it all works out.

And that is when the real difficulties of the day began.

Detach the unwanted section. Size things up, realize that to move the thing I will now need to detach a wanted section. Over three attempts I finally manage to move the desk up the K2 Mountain of basement steps. I'll not go into details here, but at one point I thought I nearly lost a pinkie. Out of desperation I tried the most ridiculous MacGyver ideas possible only to come to my senses at the last possible moment of safety.

Finally I made it happen, which then required an immediate 180 degree turn of the desk and more steps to hike. By now I'm gassed, sweating in ridiculous proportions, am hurt and sore and having nothing of any stability on this desk to grab onto. It isn't that it is heavy. It is ungainly. It is larger than I am. It is exactly the size of every obstacle between where it started and where it was going, which is about 12 feet straight up.

And don't think I didn't consider sawing a hole out of the floor and rigging up a pulley system to get the job done.

Over a sandwich I watched the final two episodes of Voyager. Until almost the very end I thought it was another one of those bad teasing false endings. And then I realized that I had seen the finale before, that this was actually it and that it was just a bad ending. I'm rather proud I never invested any real time into that show.

After that, some computer work, a little reading and now it has suddenly become a late night. Moving furniture by yourself is time intensive, and possibly not as satisfying as it should be, if all the aches and pains are any indication. I'm sore, but feeling good about the progress around the house, even if one accomplishment seems to reveal three more tasks. Another week or so of this and, if you're still reading by then, most of it will be done.

The Great Spring Cleaning, Sort Of, of 2007 now has an end in sight. You need a telescope, but still.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Walked through part of the UAB campus downtown this afternoon. It was a lovely afternoon after the morning's haze and I wanted to get a glimpse at some of the new construction underway on campus. There are several projects underway, I don't pretend to know all the details off the top of my head, but the University is in the middle of a long-reaching and ambitious plan to make a downtown commuter campus feel more collegial.

They're doing a really nice job, too. There's a huge beautiful new recreation center that opened just before I finished my master's. A big new cafeteria and dorm, a new academic building on the way and more. There's also a project now underway called The Green, a big block long section of campus that will resemble the traditional quad at many schools. This has always been one of the concerns for UAB, a great institution and a fabulous health care system and a tremendous economic engine for the community, but it has never felt like a campus in the idealized sense.

They're making great strides though and this should be a proud time in UAB's young and storied history.

I walked through the University Center, up to and in front of the library and drove by the theatre and the honors college and saw one student sitting in the shade reading. Going through the Campus Green I realized one of the things that I miss about being on campus: the solitude. The whole place was quiet. It was late on a Tuesday afternoon a week after graduation and most of the dorms and campus features were closed. Even the traffic, with a main drive through the heart of campus, seemed more sedate today.

I stopped by the baseball field, where the team was practicing, but apparently the long lens looked suspicious, so I left without causing a stir. Really, though, I'd just been avoiding housework.

Which is plentiful.

I'm moving furniture. And realizing that I was once much better at this. In high school I had a job that involved slinging furniture around a room. That was to clean carpets and the movement of any given piece was slung about four feet so that we could get the carpet cleaning wand into the hidden places. But volume counts!

I'm sure I made a lot of volume as I grunted and wheezed through some furniture moving today. I'm slowly moving rooms. One piece upstairs, one piece downstairs. But these are marginally heavy things and I am only one guy.

Heave ho, heave ho, it's out my back will go ...

Actually it wasn't bad. I'm still a bit sore though, mind you, from the weekend. Sunday night a big piece of wood in the form of the headboard of my former bed fell toward me. Instinctively I stuck my arm out to absorb the fall and then bit my tongue for the next two or three minutes so as not to wake the neighbors. Right on the unfunny bone. Meanwhile my foot feels like it will fall off at the big toe just any day now. Still we persevere. I pulled out some cable that no longer runs to anything, searched in vain for a special screwdriver and puzzled over what to do with this and that.

Currently I'm despairing at the mess one makes when they're actually trying to clean something up. When Item A must be moved all of the artifacts and years of dust bunnies materialize. When Item A is moved -- or even better, removed -- those things don't really go anywhere. And now Item B must go in that same place, but its storage spaces are already accounted for, leaving a big heap in the middle of the room.

And that's the next project.

But now I'm worn down from the experience. So far I've scuffed no walls and that regard for paint has added to the joy of the solo project. By the end of the evening I'm ready for dinner, something simple please, and by now even taking the garbage out feels like a chore. I just want to sit down and watch Denny Crane.

And right about that time Boston Legal came on. Denny Crane has Lord Stanley's Cup and is about to carve his name into it. Hilarity ensues and this will probably wind up in court in the next nine minutes thanks to Boston's streamlined legal system.

Actually there's a wedding to attend and I fear for the show based on this. Don't know what to do with the supporting cast? Marry them to one another. Where's Fonzie and his skis?

So the reverend Michael Gross -- who you'll recall as Steven Keaton from Family Ties, but I like to remember him as Burt Gummer from Tremors, because he was redemption in something terrible -- will marry off Brad and Denise, make snide comments one would rather not consider coming from a man of the cloth and ... have the law break into his church? Ahh. He's aiding illegal aliens. Very topical.

He's arrested, Alan Shore will crusade for him, the wedding is off because the bride's got a baby to birth! Ahh those wacky kids of the early 21st Century. The hijinks they could get into!

In 70 or 80 years, the internet willing, someone will stumble onto the last few paragraphs and make wide assumptions about our culture. Dear future reader: They are all true.

Anyway, the father, he art in court. Denise Chase-to-be is in contractions and Brad, her groom, is apparently still a reservist and a major (how has he avoided Iraq for all this time?) is hyperventilating. That's a nice touch. And of course his fundamental "We gotta be married before the baby gets here" vibe is used as the punchline ... those wacky kids still worried about wedlock ... Shouldn't that play against him in his stance on abortion? Since birth is the prime moment here in terms of a child being illegitimate, wouldn't that say something about when life begins?

It is a sliding scale sometimes, to be sure.

Jerry Espensen is representing a woman with a therapy duck (Paging Henry Winkler.) and his quirks are charming, for about 15 minutes. Now I just want him to go away again. Not to be disrespectful of people living with Asperger's Syndrome, but as a character it doesn't do a lot for me. As an opportunity to develop awareness it remains gold, but when you must develop new social tics each episode you've probably found backed into the corner with your paintbrush still in hand.

Denny shoots the duck. I've no idea why. No one else can figure it out and his job is once again threatened. That's foreshadowing for a later date, friends.

Alan is back in court, having done the back and forth on the immigration issue, jousted with the judge, made snide comments about the other attorney and now here's the popular closing argument. Where it has become obvious that they're now playing fast and loose with his rhetoric, but clearly the demagogy is gold.

But Alan loses. No one should be surprised here. He put the reverend on the stand and he admitted to his crime. The illegal alien cut a deal to stay in the country for her testimony which is one of those quirky little things about prosecutors, I guess. At some point these things can just become tally marks in a qualitative way without regard to the quantitative. At least television prosecutors who are made to look like antagonistic simpletons. Clearly the character broke the law, should be punished and he was fine with that. Why you'd let the other law breaker go untouched remains a mystery ... unless she is a member of a powerful minority interest now flexing its advocacy muscles. But I'm probably being too cynical about a television show now.

And, at the end, Denny drops the Stanley Cup off the balcony. Oh Denny, how you do toy with irrelevant icons.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Oh boy did this morning get here too quickly. Impossibly quickly. My subconscious tells me that despite being the type of sleeper that is generally unaware of anything that doesn't involve a crashing sound.

Fortunately whatever radio station the alarm is currently tune too was not playing a crashing noise this morning. The downside being that it took awhile to wake up. Still not sure what the topic of conversation was on the radio, but there was talking and I disagreed. Not to disagree with the position, or to disagree for the sake of disagreeing, but just because the clock was talking to me and it couldn't possibly yet be time for that.

But it was, alas.

Before I was out of the house my mother was up collecting things to add to her inventory and trip to her lake house. She was gone when I got home, there were fewer things in the house when I arrived, but there were sticky notes everywhere. Keep this, throw this out. You could plot her course through the house. When she started there were explanations for why this thing should be kept. By the time she made it to the other end the notes had been trimmed to "Keep" or "Out". Had there been another room she might have decided to resort to telepathy.

I'm going to forget that, so the sticky notes were probably the way to go.

I slept on the air mattress last night, which wasn't bad. I spent part of the afternoon on it as well, just staring blankly at the ceiling. This has been a fun-filled and busy stretch of days. Today quickly, and easily, became the day to stare at something isn't moving. When you don't even have to rationalize doing is how you know it is time to veg, that's your lesson for today.

So, today.

I made my debut appearance on The story, in brief: Last year at the Rickwood Classic I met Jim Caple by chance. He took my card, and I talked a bit to one of their producers. Ultimately, last week they wrote back and asked about some photographs and some fact checking. Jim is a great writer and doesn't need my fact checking. He's only held back by the photographer in this column.

So in getting to know one of the producers last few days through a nice rambling conversation. They decided to put the piece on the front page of under their Must Read section. Placement is everything and he producer me this afternoon to say the story and the photo gallery were doing monster numbers for them already. If you like baseball and are a fan of history, this is a great story to read.

Guess I should put that on my list of things to humbly brag about, huh? Top of the world and all that.

Elsewhere today I received not one, but two honorable mentions in the Outside the Beltway caption contest.

Later I watched all four episods of Enterprise on the SciFi channel, which brings us to the end of the third season. The cliffhanger was that our heroes are suddenly flung back into World War II earth. P-51 Mustangs are firing at the shuttle over San Francisco and there's a Nazi with a case of eczema so bad that no one wants to even mention it to him, even the doctor. And don't even mention that guy's red eyes because he will totally invade another European country on that if you set him off.

This goes on for two episodes, I believe, and then after that it will quickly become obvious, I fear, that the creative team was grasping at straws while seeing the writing on the wall. It is a shame, too, because the third season is actually not as bad as some would have you believe. But the big threat was resolved, the search spanned a whole season of programming and now it seems to be headed back toward stand alone episodes as the show limps into its final spacedock.

OK, I made a cheesy science fiction metaphor. A sure sign we should move on to other cheesy fictions.

The Bauer Hour! Next week it is the explosive (EXPLOSIVE!) season finale. Tonight Jack knocks out my cable. Or at least in one room. And now two. There's no time for this!

Oddly enough the cable in the den was working just fine. All I could get upstairs was fuzz. Perhaps it is the television. I'd try others, but my mother took one with her when she left this morning. So I ended up watching Jack doing counter-terrorism/matters of the heart things the old fashioned way: over the broadcast.

TiVo was recording downstairs, I just took the feed from the powerhouse antennae that WBRC has on top of Red Mountain. I couldn't tell you the last time I watched something with this much snow in it, but it was kind of charming in a "Get out there and fix the UHF!" sort of way.

So I finally tuned in just in time to see Jack off one Chinese bad guy and Rick Schroder shot another one who couldn't do the bad guy thing and wrestle his weapon away from a woman who was lying prone on the ground while he was standing over her and had the weight advantage by at least a hundred pounds of muscle.

Jack wants to go after the other bad guys that got away while offering candy to his nephew.

"But Jack you're still under arrest ..." "

"No one knows the layout of this place better than me."

"Oh, alright you. You suave devil."

You can see Schroder wilting a little on the inside here. Sure, he just showed up late this afternoon, but there are other people on staff who have been in the office before. Folks who haven't been locked up in a Chinese prison during two years of renovations.

But that sort of removes our hero and we can't have that. So down and around they go, chasing the bad guys and finding them just as they're about to get away. Jack shoots at and wrecks one car. A fire fight follows. He does a nice slide into second base while dropping a bad guy with one round, easily going into the Dispatching Bad Guys With Flair stack. The bad guys' boss makes his escape, with Bauer the Younger in tow and the Elder in pursuit.

Josh escapes, Jack's got the bad guy with no where to go. Josh slips because ... well, because. That's how you know he's not Jack's son, and you know that's what you're thinking when you heard the boy yell. He has the same guttural tone, but Jack doesn't slip. He rescues his nephew and while the boy is safely secured, the bad guy escapes. All is well.

Meanwhile at CTU the new guy is taking over from the interim boss lady. She's huffy, despite knowing her role all along. The characters sure do fluctuate from hour to hour. At the White House things are going badly. The treasonous woman is found out by her spy boyfriend and she then learns two treasonous wrongs do not make a right, but it will lead to some good old fashioned domestic violence, which is so much fun in this case the secret service kicks in the door.

The spy does the government's bidding in an attempt for leniency, but the Russians don't buy the stalling ruse. (Get it? Stalling ruse? Antiquated geopolitical puns! I can't get enough of them!) So things on that front continue to deteriorate because they really want that microchip back from the Chinese. Only the Chinese guy doesn't have it, Jack's father does. He was going to fix it, but things just sort of whither away in the plot at this point.

What about that nuclear explosion earlier in the day? This is like a Patrick Duffy in Dallas, Highlander 2 dream sequence thing now, isn't it?

At the end of the hour Jack is with Josh and they're about to reunite the Bauer clan, such as it is and without the pater familias, who's trying to cut deals with everybody at this point. Jack then goes to answer an urgent phone call.

Jack doesn't slip, but he does this a lot. And now I'd like to offer my open letter to Jack Bauer:
Dear Jack,

Please don't take urgent calls at the end of your day. This only leads to sorrow.


And another open letter, this time to the writers of 24:
Dear writers of 24,

You did this last season. Try something else because this will only lead to our sorrow.


Ricky Schroder Bauer naps Josh, which makes the third time that's happened today. But he sings him the Silver Spoons them while he does it. Not the original one, but the later, hipper, rock version.

They hold Jack down while the helicopter takes off. And that'll set us up for the final two hours, coming next week. It'll be EXPLOSIVE! (Tune in, really we mean it. Here's a preview of a missle being launched.)

Check out the piece and tune in next time on As the Blog Turns.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

My mother, of course, is the best in the world. I can only hope that yours is half as good. But, if she is half as good as my mother, you're still doing OK in the mother department.

(I'm contractually obligated to say these things, but it is true either way.)

Only once today did she mention that she "labored with him for 30 years" and so on.

So the world wind tour continues today. Up for church, skipped out on one half of my family for other parts of my family. Stopped by my great-grandmother's to drop off a card, made it to my other grandparents to get there for lunch. Help make the food -- I had fry duty, you want fries with that? -- scarfed down too much food, washed the dishes and stayed a few more minutes before having to sprint away from there.

I feel terrible about all of this, but it is the story of my every holiday: high level calculus to see everyone, keep them happy and then the frantic sprint to get it all done. Everyone's family is this way, I'm sure. The key parts of my extended family all live within half an hour of one another, I live several hours away so when I'm in town I feel obligated to catch them all. Having so much family that wants to see me is a blessing, having to do it all in 36 hours is a challenge.

This afternoon I drove across roughly half the width of the north part of the state. Kelly was graduating and it was worth it. (That is also worth a theme song.)

Missed the pomp, which lasted just over 30 minutes, but got there in time for 90 minutes of circumstance, including a very moving posthumous graduation of a young engineer who died of leukemia just a few credits short of graduation. His father walked across the stage to receive his degree and there weren't all that many dry eyes in the civic center when he did it.

How proud and brave and sad that man must be.

Can you imagine the Virginia Tech graduation last week? You can see that here.

Back to today, I've decided UAH must hate mothers as they apparently they always have their spring commencement on Mother's Day. That's a nice treat for the mother's of the graduate, but it is something of an inconvenience for the rest of us.

On the one hand I did get to see and give Kelly's mother a card, on the other hand I've been stealing glances at the clock all day long.

She's worth it.

Walking around taking pictures to give to Kelly this week I found the obligatory Cute Baby of the Day. He remained unimpressed through the end of the ceremony.

Visited with Kelly for a few minutes, let her celebrate with other people and got back just in time to meet my mother for the trip back to Birmingham. She's towing a trailer to take some furniture to her lake house. We stopped off on the way home to have an impromptu Pie Day with the usual suspects.

Taylor does not look conspicuous at all.

Allow me to pretend to be a photographer for a moment: On this picture I turned the camera upside down, popped the flash and bounced it off some ceramic plates. Now that's fill light.

In the parking lot she beat me up with her balloon. It was purple. I've no idea how that happened, but there I was, prone on the sidewalk and assaulted by a pre-schooler.

After that humbling experience it was a quick sprint the rest of the way home. Loaded up a trailer -- one full bedroom suite, two chairs, a television and various other pieces -- before time to crash for the night.

It is hard to turn down a mother's request on her big day, but she'll draw that out until the very end of her day if you're not careful. After all, she's "labored with you for X number of years" and she figures to get her return on investment.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

That bit, yesterday, about sleeping in on the Saturdays? Not today. The most soul-crushing of events took place last night when I realized that I had to set an alarm for Saturday morning.

So up and at 'em. Time for a drive to north Alabama. Got there just before noon and immediately went to work. The Yankee and I installed an air conditioner unit in my mother's lake house. Forced open a window that might have been painted over for decades and went for a second air conditioner. Had lunch, Chick-fil-A on the go, installed the second unit, finally stopped sweating and then got my act together just in time to take a shower.

Coat and tie, out the door and across the state line. We took family portraits with a photographer that attends my uncle's church. I don't like taking pictures generally speaking -- that's why I'm behind the camera so much, so I don't have to be in front of it -- but studio portraits roll around very rarely so I played along. Hopefully they'll be good ones.

Played with some cows, drove home and had GrandBonnie's famous chicken stew for dinner. Later in the evening there were was her even more famous fudge pie for dessert.

So, to sum up, I woke up in one area code, did housework in a second area code, took pictures in a third area code and return to an exhausted state to watch bad B movies in the second area code.

This is the easy day of my weekend.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Took today off. There was just too many things early in the week that didn't look like they'd get accomplished. A lot of it has addressed more quickly than I'd hoped, but today was still good to have for myself.

You must be flirting with responsibility when you take a vacation day to handle errands and chores.

But things progressed nicely today. Hopefully I'm making strong efforts that will deliver promising results. Still the cleaning and errand-running must continue. The weekend is here and, while that's usually a nice break, the weekend will be busier than the work week.

Weekends are breaks, but they aren't reliefs. Some people would say that, and that's the unfortunate person in need of new goals or drastic changes of scenery. Weekends, to me, generally are generally a welcome opportunity to sleep past 4:30 in the morning. Otherwise I wouldn't complain much. I couldn't; I'm a lucky guy.

But I did get to sleep in a bit today. A bit later than I intended, actually, but still got a lot done. There's more to do, there's always more to do, but we'll all get there eventually. If not then someone else will inherit the chores. That'd be a bad way to go.

"Poor guy. Had so many dreams and never got in trouble. Shame about the shrubs at his house though."

And so on.

I met one of my neighbors today, but not in the neighborhood. Later I met a former neighbor at a clothing store.

"Do you remember me?" she asked.

Should I?

I'm terrible at this. It is one of my great failings. Now I can tell you a few stories about her as a child. I can vaguely recall she attended the same high school for a short time. When we talked all I could think of was to ask how her older brother and her mother were doing.

And then she says "I've got three kids. How many do you have?"

Ha. Haha. Ha.

There's not even a schedule or a plan at this point. Presently I can say that I love children, but am more than likely a bit selfish for kids. Sleeping in on Saturdays? Yeah, that's me, but that's not a dad.

Before Pie Day more errands were scratched off the list. Presents and cards were bought. One took a long search. Godiva is closed for renovation in the mall, and one department store sold candy bars, but a second store sold the full boxes. Another stop at the Bath Junkie for another girlie present to learn that that store is closing. Everyone rush to the Galleria now!

We decide that we should make it our new goal to eat at all of the tables in the restaurant. Nothing exceptional happened after that, except Ward was asked ifa particular genre of joke would offend, he said "No" and then wordlessly walked off at the punchline.

Made it home in time to pick a few more Glomeratas on ebay. Four for 12 bucks which will give me one-third of the collection. Someone tell me when this gets out of control, OK?

That's pretty much been the day. I was worn out before dinner and I'm not sure why. The week just wore on me, I guess, with its many starts and stops. Unusual for me, but I was, and am, ready for a nap.

Need one too. Big, busy day tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Late breakfast means no lunch means pictures for you. Enjoy!

This is the entrance ramp I use every day and recently I noticed the new ghost sign. BioTech is just too new sounding, and has that cool capital letter in the middle that all the kids love these days. Nothing about this should be a ghost sign.

Had the company folded? Hard to imagine in a city where biotechnology has become such a big industry. The day after I noticed the ghost sign I found the new office. They're doing just fine, thanks. This place was kind of small and dreary, but the new office is larger and suggests that you'd be happy to shop here for a prosthetic device.

I have not found the dancing man logo on the new building. That search must continue.

It got a bit warm under the noon sun. It was 84 when I walked outside and walking seven or eight blocks in jeans got toasty. So I found an alley I haven't been down and crept along the side that was shaded. A nice old warehouse was kind enough to cool me off a bit, and then I peeked up to see that the sun had found me.

That's a fire escape of course, which still had access for the top two floors, but that last ladder was missing. Rounding the corner I found that the warehouse is still in use. A company that makes fireplaces runs it. You'd think they'd appreciate the value of a working fire escape.

With my hour almost up, having dodged traffic and avoided joggers, I found one neat little scene a block from the office. I work on a one way street and everything above it is new to me. This view was worth it. If you likes in your photography, that is. I'm not an artist or any great photographer, but lines are important, and when I see them I want to share them. So enjoy your lines.

Oh, and here's some graffiti. I have several visitors that like the graffiti pictures, so I try to oblige them with new graffiti whenever I can. I'm a giver. I was actually looking for one abandoned building with no roof, but colorful artwork on the inside, but I was picking all the wrong roads. Next time then.

I need new dress shoes. And the world apparently discriminates against people with big feet. It has become very difficult in recent years to find dress shoes of the appropriate style in a size 13. On the fourth store I found some that will do. I wanted loafers, but instead got some that make me look like a government employee. They have thin laces, are shiny and the heel is raised to the exact degree of some guy sitting in an office somewhere in Manhattan. He makes a lot of money to be there, so he feels the need to be precise.

But in four stores I found two pairs of shoes that were both black and fit, I suppose I shouldn't ask for too much more than that.

(Originally I was going to detail the shoe shopping experience in this blog's patented 14 paragraph style, but I decided against it. You're welcome.)

At home the cleaning continues. I'm at that magical place where no matter what I do doesn't seem to improve on anything. In fact, in my efforts to clean, shuffle, reorganize and throw things out the place looks dirtier than it did when I started.

I should do something about that.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Here's a helpful hint: don't clean closets with melancholy music playing in the background. I put a random set on for the chore and then realized that all the wrong songs were popping up. One needs hyper music for sorting, organizing, restacking and throwing things out. Keep it lively, I say. You'll get rid of more stuff and make more room for yourself that way.

So after I changed the musical selections I got back to work, knocking out two closets, finding two garbage backs worth of goods to donate and two bags to recycle into the family ecology. Out of that effort I might have created almost one empty closet, so the peppier music did the trick. Now I just have three more closets to go, but those will be a different day. Now, it is the basement and garage.

Later. I waited until long after the sun went down just to avoid the heat, but I still finished up sweaty. I've established a toehold in the basement however. Now sitting outside and happily waiting for their second chances to help others are an old lamp, a big chair, an end table and two copiers. There's also a weedeater, two ancient televisions, four bags of clothes and sundries and part of a set of suitcases. And two mattresses.

And that without any peppy music.

Hannah Homes is coming to pick that stuff up tomorrow. Hopefully most of it will be useful somehow.

When I get in tomorrow I'll be cleaning up around the basement, organizing the trinkets, starting a liberal throw it out program and sweep up leaves. I've never been sure how they get in there, the door never stays open, but leaves are sneaky little things.

Ultimately three pieces of furniture will go upstairs and three pieces from upstairs will make it down there. Anyone with a talent for spatial dynamics, or even Tetris, is invited to come help orchestrate that. I'll move it, just help me figure out how.

All of this is an awful lot of change for one week. It has probably seemed dreadfully repetitive to you, and I apologize. But you know how cleaning is. A few more days of singular focus on house projects and I can find something more fun to play with. Hopefully you'll find that more intriguing. If not, I've got big problems here, no?

Almost time for Dreamtown, Population: Me. But first there's one small television note. I watched the season finale for Jericho last night. I know a couple of people that read this won't have watched the show by the time they read this, so I'll stay mostly quiet. But wow. The good people behind this show know how to write a cliffhanger. Best post-apocalyptic television show out there.

Oh, and a piece of good news to end the day: Stephen and Brooke called and reported they're having a girl. They sent out the ultrasound and everything looks good. Congrats again guys.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Today was better than yesterday. There were some difficulties yesterday, nothing worthy of bothering you with here, just a Monday. There was a trifling annoyance, but in the scheme of things this is all cake and butter and that delicious stuff on the cake mixer compared to What Could Have Been.

Whenever life takes hold in an unpleasant way it is always good to remember that. My health, life nor any of the things that are really important have been called into question; this problem can be remedied and so this day has been another win.

So I spent some time on the phone today, reconciling these previous difficulties. In an afternoon I'd accomplished 85 percent of everything required, doing in about an hour the things I'd feared would take more than a day. I spoke with extremely pleasant and helpful people on on phones in several different agencies. They were mostly of the flat middle American accent so that it was hard to tell where they are from, but you got the sense that there's a banner on the wall in their call center: You're making things better for someone on this call.

It seeped down the phone system, lept to a satellite and then swooped into the nearby cell tower and beamed its way into my phone and thusly to me. Kindness. Patience. It was a satisfying feeling. Mission, as they say, accomplished. And with not nearly the angst and gnashing of teeth one would expect.

I only go on in such glowing terms to make one small point. The rule of thumb was once that a satisfied customer tells one friend, but a dissatisfied customer tells 10. That's changed, I believe, because we've unfortunately grown so accustomed to poor service that it is the norm, and why grouse about that to your friends? It just has to be outlandish to even merit a mention. But get yourself some good service these days and you'll go on and on. Think about it.

Having done that I decided on an afternoon of leisure. Yes, I take many of these, but the rest of life gets accomplished too, you're just left to assume that the chores have been completed, the bills paid and the door-to-door encyclopedia salesman has been kept at bay.

You haven't heard from that guy in a few years, have you? The internet snatched away a few dozen jobs from upstart college students looking to spend the summer bankrolling the fall. Roombas robbed us of the vacuum cleaner salesman and the only ones left are the missionaries and the local guy who'd really like to cut down some limbs in your yard. That's what I have here, some guy going mailbox to mailbox adding to the clutter. That's probably a felony, but would anyone prosecute? We have that guy, and the occasional fund raising kid, but that's it. My suburb isn't suburban enough to get the ubiquitous Chinese menu rolled up and straining against a rubber band.

Had any of them stopped by today, they would have found me lounging on the sofa, taking in The Longest Day. The title is as if the filmmakers were concerned you wouldn't get the point with the three hour run time. This is still a great movie, even as modern war stories are outpacing it on the silver screen. Soldiers die in this film in the absurd black and white war movie ways, but that feels almost like a reprieve these days.

There are something like three dozen honest superstars in this movie and John Wayne is the worst actor among them. Love the guy, but he's John Wayne-ing it in here. Of course he's opposite with Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Roddy McDowall, Red Buttons, Sean Connery and a host of others, but that just widens the divide here I think.

The Longest Day received two Oscars and, in the 1962 context, probably deserved more. There are some fantastic shots, terrific narrative and incredible absurdism that anyone who's read anything about war must conclude that what you just saw either did happen or could happen. Sure the movie has its production mistakes, but that aerial shot of the running battle toward the end makes up for everything. Now 45 years ago they made that shot, today it'd all be CGI and only slightly obvious, but this shot feels historic in itself now. It makes you wonder what the French must have felt when the filming was being done, or the German actors thundering away in such big roles. It'd been less than a generation -- indeed some of these actors participated in the invasion -- and yet here was this movie. Indeed, have some great historical trivia:
While clearing a section of the Normandy beach near Ponte du Hoc, the film's crew unearthed a tank that had been buried in the sand since the original invasion. Mechanics cleaned it off, fixed it up and it was used in the film as part of the British tank regiment.
And so they set out to make the definitive piece of cinema of such an important moment. It might fall a bit short now, which is a shame and not the movie's fault, but rather our knowledge of the outcome. Historical certainty plays tricks on us here, but this situation was very much in doubt, and remained so long after John Wayne's character finally makes it to town. Never a sure bet, it was some time after D-Day that those in the middle of the action could feel the momentum turn in the war.

How I do go on about the classics.

Watched two episodes of Enterprise tonight, nodding off in the third. I'm coming to the conclusion, though, that this third season gets short shrift. It is bad in parts, sure, but they're realling laying the foundation here for the serious episodic science fiction work to come. The mood is often dark, the characters get gritty and there are several flirtations with moral ambiguity. The storyline has become episodic and aside from the overall "Everything Will Ultimately Be OK in the End Because it is Star Trek" (TM Gene Rodenberry) feeling that the show can't escape, there's a lot of doubt and fear and shadow involved.

By this time in the series production, however, the writing was being put on the wall. Purists were probably still upset, but there are a lot of small things that this series made OK for later programs. Some of the firefights, the grime and the debris all take a little run at Battlestar Galactica. Someone was taking note, "Oh, OK. I can do these things now. Good."

In giving some of the characters darker sides if they'd only let them carry out their actions, turned down the moral conscience of someone else, and just see where revenge goes things could have become incredibly compelling. But by then the narrative between this show and the later programs were already being united. That's the problem with prequels, even when you break the bonds of convention you still have to get to the next place's starting point.

How I do go on about things that are less than classic.

But that was my afternoon and evening. Six hours of televised bliss reduced to four thanks to the TiVo. The EvIl eye's memory is mostly clean once again. For now. So I'll be able to get into more productive things.

But first we have to briefly (because it is late) discuss Boston Legal. What's one more of television between friends? Denny rules, of course. Except for that boxer shorts scene. Alan is waffling on his women. Jerry Espensen makes it make into the firm and delivers the best episode opener the show's ever had. I think they hear us singing along out here in audience land. The show continues to try for more the more political storyline. It is entertaining, but guarantees the half-life of the program.

Tomorrow, you'll get to hear about the basement!

Monday, May 7, 2007

There were some really nice things that happened today. I had a few pleasant phone calls, a few unpleasant phone experiences and they all make me question the quality of my old cell phone.

Ultimately this has been one of those days that would take 45 minutes or so to explain out all the details in one sit-down conversation. So, instead, I'll keep it to myself and serve it up in small doses over the next many days.

How's that for suspense and drama?

OK, there's a little tease: I'm moving some furniture around. My mother is coming at some point to take some of the extra gear to her lake house, so I'm reorganizing. One room down and now I have designs on two more.

We'll call slinging around furnishings a second kind of spring cleaning. It could ultimately become cathartic, were one to need that sort of thing. This week's projects, though, will likely just free up some much needed space and remove some clutter. Hannah Home is coming soon and I hope to impress them with my generosity. Especially since I could give them no estimate for how much stuff I was donating, but they're stop by thusly blinded anyway.

I can't tell you all about these donation and rearrangement plans just yet, or else I wouldn't have anything to write about later in the week. Much of today was spent trying to figure out the logistics, though. So I'll be busy the next few days, if you call and I sounded winded you'll know why.

And that's also why the regular newspaper and Glomerata features will be held off this week. It seemed a good time to pause them and I can certainly use the time effectively on the home front. Hopefully both projects will continue next week.

Dinner was at 6 p.m. or thereabouts at Cracker Barrel. Cravings must be satiated and all that. Looking around the restaurant I was dining with grandparents. When I opened the door the median age dropped by 20 years. Quiet room though; those nice people were intent on eating.

Me too, there were Mother's Day cards to pick up and television to watch. And after an already action packed day one mustn't keep Jack waiting.

The Bauer Hour, then. Originally, I wrote that last sentence above while thinking about my day. And then I thought about Jack's day. Perhaps the sentence was better meant for Jack. A-ha! I thought, vague modifiers win again! A double word score!

Now, however, I've watched Jack and think perhaps my day has been more exciting than his.

Granted for most of the hour he was locked up in a holding cell. The good guys are two steps behind the bad guys again. There's romance and strife in romance and millions of bloodthirsty Jack Bauer fans couldn't care less, really, guys. Which brings me back to a name in the credits I've noticed the last four hours or so of Jack's life. Manny Coto.

Normally I'm not a credit watching kind of guy. Directors and writers, composers and key grips don't really interest me. Sorry. I lately pay attention to the actors and actresses, but even then there's a lot of That Guy and Some Dude in my conversation about television and movies. But Manny, oh dear sweet Manny. I've happened to catch his name in the credits of a few programs I'm watching lately and can't help but notice he always jumps on board at precisely the moment a show's universal fan condemnation starts.

I suppose it is too early to make that observation from a small handful of data points, but I'm worried about a trend developing, and worried that it could happen to 24. The bigwigs over the show have said the program is taking a whole new turn in the next season, big explosive ending, etc., but right now we're watching a really intense daytime drama.

And were it not for one clip of the television you would have forgotten there was a nuclear explosion earlier in the day. Just 12,000 dead, we pay it never no mind. After all, some White House aide is having tete-a-tete with a spy -- and not just any spy, but Daniel, from Stargate. What does SG-1 want with the outdated Russian computer chip? -- and then there's some crisis between computer programmers here, some of the other mid-level don't care developments parallel what your 12-year-old is bringing home from the playground.

"I understand if your feelings have changed." From this morning? Come on Milo. Have more confidence in your swarthy soul patch skills than that. Yeah, he's Ricky Schroder and sure you've been in enough WB drivel to make me regret having spent 15 seconds looking you up on IMDB, but still, persevere man! Don't give up the girl yet.

Meanwhile the Chinese are trying to attack CTU, which seems a bit narrow when one thinks of strategy and tactics, but.

They're going in through the sewers, which seems both icky and improbable given the import of the target, but.

Last season an air conditioner control was behind bricks, armed guard, rebar and fortifications that would make pre-D-Day Rommel proud, so naturally the sewer entrance is protected by one flimsy little sewer grate.

So here are the Chinese, with their impeccable English and so geared up that they forget to speak in, you know, Chinese. And they want to kill the White Shirts. Take that Trek! All the White Shirts fall, communication goes down, the network goes haywire because another Chinese man with your ATM card in hand has typed in a few codes and goodby 21st Century, hello running around and forgetting any sense of their safety procedures, which are neatly on file somewhere we're all certain.

Ha! CTU now has designated Safe Rooms. See? They did learn something after the Great Gassing of Ought Five. But the Chinese run faster, shooter quicker and make a darling dinner dish. Just what Jack wanted, because really, 4 a.m. breakfast of Chinese food from yesterday was so long ago.

Maybe next season he could get captured by a European country, just to change up his diet?

So the lead bad guy calls for the lead CTU person. Milo stands up, predictably takes one for the team and on the way to his great reward you can almost hear the words "Top that, Schroder."

Example having been set, the Chinese send out a memo, white paper and an RSS feed indicating they'd like to have Bauer, and soon please. Not Jack, but his nephew Josh, who really looks more like Schroder than anyone. Ever notice, by the way, that Ricky never wears a bullet proof vest? That's because he's covered in Silver Spoons. Oh sure, they clink and clank and give away his position for miles, but the protection is solid and their secondary applications are marvelous. Don't forget to polish!

Jack kills three or four Chinese guys, but that's not even playing into the global math very well. Josh escapes, but gives himself up at the end of the episode thinking it will save his mother's life.

And then James Cromwell is on the phone with the Chinese wanting to pick his grandson up. It had to be him, somehow, because they re-inserted his name in the credits, so no surprise there. But it couldn't have been a hostage power play because Bauer the elder was ready to punctuate his lineage in the heady days of, oh, just a few hours ago.

I think I'm ready for the season to be over. I think perhaps they should have put up the family stuff first because it would be OK, but it comes in a little weak after you snuff out a California town with a nuclear weapon in the early part of the day. Perhaps if they'd inverted them and then made that the cliffhanger. That'd keep us talking. In a good way, not a Manny Coto way.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

A Cracker Barrel breakfast -- where everyone in our section learned that maybe the waitress shouldn't advertise that she has a cold.

Sneezing can't be helped, and thanks for turning your head and covering your mouth for at least the socially acceptable swipe at courtesy and protection. Could you not immediately touch my plate with that hand thereafter?

Maybe that's on the second series of training videos.

After that, the plan was the movies. A catch-up noontime breakfast and the movies! Ha! No one has ever thought of this before! Except the movie theatres. And the room full of people in there waiting for Spiderman 3:
Good, but not as good. High action, some laughable acting in places.
It is a summer blockbuster. It is a summer blockbuster I kept telling myself when my mind wanted to complain about all of the CGI. The rest of the time I marvelled at how shoddily built the buildings of New York are. Kirsten Dunst looked at one too hard and the bricks beneath the cornice work crumbled.

Later and back home, the day is passing easily. There was one unpleasant chore to do, but otherwise the day has been another marvelous example of the Southland in the springtime.

Those pancakes sat with me for a long time through the afternoon, and dinner never seemed like anything to worry about. But one occassionally feels obligated to eat more than one meal a day, so there was lasagna for dinner and leftovers for later in the week.

Watched 12 Angry Men again as the night got long. The original version this time. Haven't caught it in a few years and the EvIl eye pointed it out to me last weekend. A college professor played part of this in a class one day. We learned he was a collector of great films and he loaned me a few from time to time. Some of them I understood and could grasp their greatest, some that must have just been beyond me.

This was one of the movies he loaned me. I thought I got it then, but honestly, I see it differently each time I watch. The movie just becomes more real and full after every viewing, much like a sophisticated and thrilling storyline would. Only this whole film is about one argument, 12 people and one 16X24-foot room.

Oh, and it strikes me now that Juror #8 probably broke the law as his major early argument. You'd never expect that of Henry Fonda, I know, but there it is all the same.

Didn't know this movie made him swear off producing. But he thought the finished product was terrific. The conventional wisdom is that it is a classic film of the age, but it bombed with its contemporaries.

I'd like to see the stage version. Or the whole thing shot in the round in one take. This would be impossible, but I often have that feeling.

And that's my weekend, one of good feelings. Hope yours was as successful as well.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Lunch at Jason's Deli, where nothing terribly exciting happened, but there was the requisite cute kid sightings.

Sometimes happen with that same regularity that Jim Carrey's character experienced in The Truman Show. Always the same person saying the same thing at the usual spot each day. So idyllic and expected and charming in its safe regularity. Cute kids at Jason's are kind of like that. There's forever some mother or grandfather toting around a towheaded child with big, curious blue eyes who knows exactly when to smile and doesn't hesitate to wave at precisely the moment you do. They're always neat and clean, which I suppose, is a credit of some kind to the food the kids are eating.

Jason's has a banner hanging over the salad bar now, very pointedly telling diners that they are trans fat free right down to their croutons. It has a feeling of one part clever marketing and one part indoctrination. Our dear crouton leaders would never harm us. Now have another. And another. Now how about some ice cream? Soft serve almost-yogurt, of course, with the cone that is absence of anything that might be harmful.

Why, yes, I will thank you. You had me at cone.

So this is your trans fat argument. Cities are voting on this; New York, Philadelphia, Chicago are all curbing trans fats on a political level. Massachusetts, Maryland, California, and Vermont are also considering statewide bans.

From a public health point of view this is good. It makes sense financially since governments will ultimately pay for the healthcare of some people with heart disease, diabetes and every other scary thing that points at trans fats. We'd all really prefer that the cities didn't take up the argument though. Consumers can vote with their feet and their wallets. Let stores offer the product they want, and the people will go where they like. If you just have to have McDonald's over this delicious wrapini that's up to you. But they charge extra for the apple pie, and the ice cream is free at Jason's. Just an FYI.

Jason's, for example, is always full. And even the crouton eaters are healthy and happy about the experience.

When was the last time you could say that about your cellphone service? The Yankee and I stopped by Cingular. She was getting a new phone, and I was just looking at the gadgets. Somehow along the way I managed to get my landline bill reduced -- two points for synergy -- and she thought she had a great deal on a Razr. And then she thought she was getting hosed. But that got worked out quickly, her old phone now works better, she didn't have to spend any money and the only cost for any of it was standing inside looking through tinted glass at a beautiful blue sky.

So then we went and met friends.

I hadn't seen The MoF in a while. Hard to believe that a year has passed since we finished from grad school. A year? Already? Wow. She hasn't changed, and that is a good thing. Some things never should.

She took this picture. I'll blame being caught unawares for my lousy posture.

There were a great many jokes, almost none of them mine, so I shouldn't steal other people's thunder. And they were all smart and clever jokes of the brutally honest kind. The sort of thing that is shared between five people who are unfamiliar with at least two of the other people involved. The MoF was the bridge between all these people, and it is interesting to watch how conversation shifts back and forth given the new dynamics. But I have to stop thinking about these things as small group communication studies. We'd later end up talking about education and it had to be noted that this table of people was atypical. There were five people and nine college degrees.

Despite all that we still endlessly heckled passersby. And our friend Lou would come out from his perch inside and heckle us from time to time. It is a nice arrangement for a lovely spring evening.

Eventually we ended up at Mellow Mushroom. The waiter gave me permission to order either a small or a medium. I could get whatever I wanted, really, it didn't matter to him. I was instantly relieved. He also let me take home a drink in a to-go cup. Heck of a guy, that young man with the pretty hair. Mellow Mushroom is an interesting place. No matter which one you go to, I'd bet. It has a certain gravitational pull for some folks, I guess it is the mushroom art and the tie dye.

Where else can you see a six-foot-tall 200+ pound guy with a purple mohawk rocking out to old and classic Def Leppard while he's wiping down the oven? Not many places. At least I hope not. The whole imagery takes away the importance of that particular period of music and makes it seem like a punchline. They only sold 16 million copies of this record and then there's this guy ruining its proper place and time in the rock and roll story. For shame.

That's what you get for eating pizza so late at night. Probably the trans fats.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Enjoyed lunch with a friend from UAB today. Met him about six years ago when he worked in the athletics department over there. They needed some P.A. work and I needed something fun to do, so things worked out. Did that for about two years, learning along the way that he was also an Auburn man, that he and I'd worked the same jobs when we were college. Not the same type of jobs, but the actual same positions within about three or four years of one another. Two of them. That always seemed unlikely, what are the odds of such a thing?

I haven't seen my friend Mark in a long time. He'd gotten married, moved over to the medical side of things at UAB and looks happy and healthy. He brought along a friend of his for the office -- wings were the order of the day, and some people just have to have wings when they are mentioned -- and he was a very nice guy, muscular in that crush your hand in a friendly shake sort of way. Fortunately that was after lunch. It'd be unfortunate if anything happened to the fingers before you could get to your wings.

But I had the chicken and vegetables. My stab, I said, at being healthy for the day.

So we visited and caught up and waxed philosophical on all the things that we all knew the others knew about: Auburn, UAB, sports. It was only an hour after all. Good to see him though. We'll have to catch up again soon.

And with that began the easy slide into the weekend. Nothing beats that mood, one of those rare spots where the moment lives up to the anticipation: Here it comes! Here it is!

Come to think of it I have more than my share of moments like that, for which I'm grateful. But the weekend one, that's important.

So this afternoon I set about doing housework, but found I just couldn't. There was too much playing to be had, and on Fridays this is allowed.

Which leads us to Pie Day. I was assigned this week to being the first person to arrive. Better that one sit out front for a while rather than a half dozen. At the hostess stand the girl stares at me blankly, and I stared back as blankly. Maybe this way I think to myself, she won't feel bad when she realizes that I'm waiting to get on her list.

Perhaps she was thinking the same thing, because finally she just points to another person who has another list. We're on multi-tiered seating this evening, apparently.

"Smoking or non?"

I'll have the Ward section, thanks.

This was a new girl, so I was prepared for the conversation that goes along the lines of "No you can't." Yes I can, and dragging that out until Ward sees me, comes over and fixes the whole situation. This happens with the new people, but we have the regulars trained. This nice hostess, however, wrote it down like everyone in the store had requested their servers by name. Perhaps they are now, I don't know, so long as they leave us a spot for Ward.

They did. When he found out we were there, standing out in the parking lot enjoying the light blue of a May evening sky he came out and gave us all hugs. He missed us.

And then Ward commenced to work very hard for us.

How, I'm never certain. This is what our five orders looked like when he'd finished writing them. He's intent on making eye contact during the order taking process. Most people probably don't mind if his eyes are down at the moment, but would prefer that he got their orders correct. This has become a running joke with us, where we often make him recite the whole thing from his list. He can read that.

Taylor was in fine form tonight. That is one of her mean faces, but they all looked pretty happy to me. It wasn't so long ago that she was a shy girl of two that hid behind her parents whenever anyone noticed her, but now she hugs everyone at the table when she arrives. Outgoing at four. They grow up so fast.

Her parents say she now wakes up and knows it is Pie Day. Elizabeth said she woke up this morning singing the Pie Day theme song which she recorded just a few tables away. It is so fascinating to be part of an institutional event with a child. Thirteen years from now, we imagine, she'll turn down would-be boyfriends because they don't take her for pie on Friday nights. That's profound in a tasty dessert kind of way.

Here's a pretty smile.

And that was pretty much the day, one where events passed in front of the eyes in time with music buzzing in the ears. Fridays are special and magical like that.

Must be the pie.

Links: Have a look at some of the useful things I stumbled across today. Here are 11 good candid photography tips. After that, master your metaphors and a guy matching his photographs with classic art

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Overheard: And you put your hand right there during the Pledge of Allegiance because that's where your heart is, and your heart is supposed to be covered.

These are adults. Educated people, but Gallagher fans nonetheless, I'd bet.

So I've been surrounded the last few days. I just thought the leap year anecdote from yesterday was bad. Now two people are discussing something they've been doing from rote memory and custom all of their lives. Two points for muscle memory I guess. Really, it is good that your ligaments and tendons are patriotic, even where you aren't.

I bet they are also five comma people. Oh that was a big thing in our little world in school. Some people say the pledge with five commas but that was Not Right.
I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Using commas as nature and e.e. cummings intended, you'd have five pauses, but, again, that is Not Right. The correct recitation would have four commas.
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
You'll think of this the next time you're in a room of school children, or at your Kiwanis meeting, and you'll hear that mealy mouthed extra pause and realize you've had it wrong all these years.

Which is not meant to cause you to question your patriotism or your allegiance, but just to remember your humble grammatical friend, the comma.

Hey, at least you knew what the right hand was doing.

Musically today I've been slowly going through a few more of my rentals. Pat Green, who's easy to enjoy if you like sawdust with your Texas blues and rock, offered me Cannonball. And this is good, though I think small doses is the way to go here for me. The whole CD at one time might be asking too much, so in the scheme of things this might not be an interstate non-stop CD, but if you're downtown running errands and going in and out, tolerating the DMV and pondering which sushi to have, this CD might hold up well.

I love the way the guy writes liner notes: "Who never lost faith in me. When I was at my worst and I swore I was right even when I was wrong." Elsewhere: "I hope some day you respect me like I respect you." The whole thing is full of sentimental pap like that. Seems a very likable guy, which is really what you want in your Texas country rocker. Someone humble enough to tell you how glad you and the other 40 people have been here all night to hear the music, smell the sawdust, and dance the most inappropriate two-step imaginable. And now here's our flashy new hit. The guy's been out there for a long time and I like to cheer for people like him, so check out his latest.

Speaking of holding up and not speaking of the latest, I threw some R.E.M. into the list. I'll admit I'm poppy enough to be the one guy who enjoys R.E.M who still likes Shiny Happy People. They hate it, never play it, and that's why I've never seen their show; I'd be disappointed going home. So I'm listening to Out of Time, and there's some great music on there. But it isn't full of the classic tracks as I remember. R.E.M. was changing by then, and it became hard to watch this guy go to "I'm a beloved millionaire rock star and I feel underappreciated and am sullen and unhappy." A group that, right around this album actually, established and defined and then later rewrote the casual definition for Alternative shouldn't be this way. Cash your check, play and be happy with your life. Everybody hurts? Only in high school. And now I find that the music that accompanied that period doesn't stand as well. Still, there's four solid tracks on here, which is more than you can ask of a lot of acts, from 1991 or now. So I'll take my Shiny Happy People and be shiny.

Now aren't we all glad I never considered a job as a music reviewer?

Had a nice catnap today. Hence the padding with my overly pretentious observations about music. My phone woke me up before the alarm did. To the person that called: I'm sorry I missed you. My arm was badly mangled, the nerves tingling and pinched and I couldn't wake it up and get the feeling back in time to catch the phone. So I owe you a call and I'll try and make that happen tomorrow.

I got a graduation note from Kelly. It featured an appropriate quote about the meaning of the word "impossible" and the image of a pig with wings. Which, while I was laughing and thinking of all the things that Kelly is I realized the thing that she is the most, the one adjective of which I rob her. That girl is clever.

Her college is holding graduation ceremonies in the middle of the afternoon on Mother's Day. The powers that be there are decidedly less clever, and/or possibly have difficulties understanding the calendar.

Elsewhere I could go on at length about the To Do List for around the house I'm making, but this place is prosaic enough today. Tomorrow, being Friday, will be better. In the meantime, like Spiderman? Like comics? If so, we've got the podcast for you. You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I decided that, today, what I really needed to find the woman with the coldest hands in the greater tri-state area and ask her to put them on my ears. I also asked her for a haircut, and she did that too. The cold hands were something of a free perk. As was the conversation.

I generally like small talk that requires more than four sentences. People have stories, they are usually interesting if you are careful enough to take the conversation in the right direction. You can generally either learn something, laugh at something or share in someone's memory. Often you can do all of those things.

However, at the hair cutting place -- I don't really go to a barber shop, and I wouldn't call it a salon or a beauty shop either -- I generally try to avoid the small talk. First, the person is concentrating. Or should be. And if the hair cutter person -- be he barber or she stylist -- isn't concentrating then I have to be. Second, this person has done this before. My hair isn't overly complicated, and if hair cutter people evaluate these things as soon as they find out what I'd like their mind then plays Track Two: Small Talk, Medium.

Which, to me, says the person has said all of this before. Maybe seven or eight times already today. It was mid-afternoon already, who knows how many times this lady with the ice cube fingertips has had to have this conversation?

So, as a courtesy, I try not to strike up a talk with this person. Their job is generally to work on hair and be personable and, for the 15 minutes or so that we're together, I really won't be offended if the person with scissors and trimmers flashing around fleshy parts of my head doesn't have to chat me up. I like to think of it as giving back.

Today, however, this nice lady asked the usual, "Where ya from? Where do you work? Do you have any kids?"

On that last one we had a commonality, meaning I have none and she has twins. Fifteen year old girls.

"And they're stupid too. They make good grades, but they're just stupid, ya know?"

No ma'am, even in my internal monologue I know better than to discuss this, agree or try to down play it. I'll just listen and pretend to be nonplussed by your statement.

"The other night I was having to explain leap year to one of them."

And here I began to agree with her. They are 15 after all.

"And so I explain that and she thinks about it for a second and says 'So if you're born on leap year that means you don't have birthdays every year?' And she thinks about that for a while and says, 'I guess that's why we have midgets?'"

Yes ma'am. You have less than smart daughters.

Otherwise the haircut wasn't bad. Except for those hands. Wear mittens next time why don't ya?

After that I came home, watched a bit of television, took a catnap, made dinner, watched Jericho -- that's a great show, and the season finale is next week, you're missing out and have been drifting through the evening doing those things that get you a little closer to the end of the day without even realizing it.

On that subject, no new Glomeratas this week. I realized this evening that I still needed to set up the template for the new subdirectory, so that was my effort there. Next week the Glom will be back as we begin our look at 1953, which would have been my grandfather's freshman yearbook, had he attended Auburn.

Haircuts as the high point mean you're having a pretty low key day, and that's pretty much been the case today. Here's to something equally quiet and reserved tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

There was a wreck on the 59 this morning. No one in this city uses the article in front of interstate numbers, mostly they don't make sense. The 59, the 20. Even the three digit interstate gets no attention from grammatical articles. The 459? Never happen. The number is more reflective of a speed on the freeway rather than a highway designation anyway.

At any rate, a man rolled his truck just before the downtown junction. This was before 6 a.m., the truck was off the side, but police blocked the right lane for the eventual tow truck. The right lane is where people wanting to exchange this interstate for that one need to be, but there were difficulties. Already, before 6 a.m., there were delays.

So I figured that, since I'm stuck in the wreck, I'll snap off a few pictures for work. Two officers standing between their cars and the flashing merge signs on the service trucks. Two more police officers standing just behind the overturned truck discussing lunchmeats. And the driver, fortunately unharmed, standing in front of his truck, looking off into the distance, wondering about the things we all wonder about when we roll the automobile and it finally comes to a stop on the driver's side: How am I going to explain this to the wife?

And then at work we discussed the burned bridge at the Oakland Bay. Since Rosie O'Donnell thinks science, man and physics have never melted and twisted steel, prompting her entertaining 9/11 conspiracy theories, the thinking world offers this latest evidence to her and just wants her to go back to being a mildly amusing comic. Here ya go Rosie, and I quote "the intense heat melted the steel overhead."

So the question we asked is why haven't both meltings of Birmingham's downtown junction merited such national attention? The first accident, early in 2002 was more severe and did get some national play. A man died and one of the interchanges was badly damaged. Less than three years later a fuel truck approaching some 80 miles an hour rounded one of the curves, rolled his rig and caught everything on fire. Here's one of the bad pictures I took later that day. Police wouldn't let me get close enough with the weak camera I had on me at the time, but I assure you there was heat twisted and warped steel.

That driver, interestingly enough, was due in court in a few days for traffic violations. Repairs for each fiery, interchange clogging, overpass destroying wreck were conducted around the clock, and both done in less than three months. But San Francisco has gotten a little more publicity.

Or so we thought. At noon Paul Harvey asked the ever-popular rhetorical question about an East Coast media bias, cited "San Francisco's latest disaster" as evidence that it existed and moved on to another item. I suppose that means that Mr. Harvey has a bias, because he didn't even follow up with any details. "Latest disaster" was enough. But Mr. Harvey, if we haven't heard about it because of that scourge of East Coast media, how can I be expected to understand your reference? And what about our bridges? We'd like to know, as you say, the rest of the story.

I heard Mr. Harvey in the car where it occurred to me that I should always make a point to be near a radio when he's on now. Bless him I hope he broadcasts forever, but I don't want to miss the last of his fine body of work. I was driving back, over thankfully non-fiery roadways, from the subway shop du jour and the library. I picked up music today. Lots of it. Should get me through the week and more.

This afternoon I listened to Hootie and the Blowfish. I don't care what you say about this, really, they're entertaining in a happy sort of way. I knew about four songs off the album, but in an acoustic sense, so all of this was new. Good stuff to make it through the afternoon with.

Also checked out Indigo Girls latest effort, Despite Our Differences. I saw them tour in support of this album last October in a show that rocker verily and I suspect I'll see them when they return to Birmingham next January and possibly in Atlanta this September. Anyway, I know two of these songs from heavy rotation on satellite radio, but the rest of it is new and great and every review (the positive ones at least) has been accurate.

This could be a busy year, musically speaking. I so rarely go to concerts and today I've found those two, last week I saw that BNL is playing the Crawfish Festival here this weekend. That's tempting. Already that'd be three concerts and I'm probably too old now for that many shows. Remember when that was a good week? Those were the days.

So I have a stack of CDs from the library sitting near the harddrive at work. And right next to that stack is a smaller stack of discs of music that a coworker has invited me to explore. On the very top of that smaller stack is the new Wilco and it is easily one of the best of the lot. I can say that having heard the Indigo Girls, and knowing there are a few heavyweights in the library stack I've yet to digest. So just pardon me if I'm humming for the next few days.

Anyway. This has been a big day for a lot of people. Kelly called to say she'd just taken her last final, ever. And has left the college campus, forever. Except for that graduation thing. It is hard to explain how proud I am to have Kelly as my friend (13 years this summer). I have almost the same difficulty in expressing my pride in her accomplishment. All she's done is balance work, family, marriage and college and come out of the other side wiser, more experienced, and her usual happy self. That's a lot to juggle and she's spent the majority of the time making it look easy. She'll walk at UAH next week.

My friend Melanie (three years last month) is also graduating this semester, but from Auburn, and she just got engaged too. Crazy kids.

What? Am I the only person around here who remembers how long they've known people? I'm just counting the days until they all turn into friendships like Denny and Alan's.

Which is a painful and obvious segueway into tonight's episode of Boston Legal. A man who's body defeated AIDS wants the firm to represent him in his soon-to-be-found fame, but first there's the matter of who owns the patent to his DNA. He loses, which almost never happens to this firm. And Shirley Schmidt represented him too. It is a shock. Clarence, ably played by the excellent Gary Anthony Williams represented a girl in a lawsuit both frivolous and pointless as a storyline. He lost to one of the recurring guest stars, who, judging by the preview for next week is set to become a regular.

On the subject of Alan, he shakes down an assistant district attorney over the prosecution of a judge for possession of an hallucinogenic. That D.A. is always getting conned. Oh, and Alan and Denny have a tiff over that judge. Who is a woman and sultry. Alan claims dibs, and the whole thing sets off the balcony epilogue and gives it a different tone altogether. Usually they are far more poignant, but this one was more ... present, which seemed to be the case for most of the episode. Brad Chase had the most poignant moment of the show, and that was resolving the non-lover's quarrel he and Denise were having. Paul Lewiston had the chance to thunder away as the one redeeming part of this plot point, which I otherwise don't care about. Anytime Rene Auberjonois gets to chew on some scenery is good in my book. Here's to hoping they recover their stride again quickly.

Site stuff:There are two new newspapers to glance at. Go here if you're just getting started in the series. If you're all caught up, jump directly to the latest.

Like the new background? I call it Sky Over Piedmont. You can see the full image in the box in the top left corner, but it is just sky and clouds, taken from this weekend.