Kenny Smith | blog

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I promised you car photographs, holding off on what you really wanted to see until I really needed something to show you.

Who knew that day would come so quickly?

So here's the car. It is a 2008 Altima. Got a better deal than on a 2007 Altima parked next to it, this one has far more features and the color schemes are better. Winner: Me.

I mentioned that my mother was in town and I put her to work. She looked over a few cars with me, but where she really helped was in the haggling. She likes that stuff. She's playing with numbers and mental chess and I'm parsing out the words that the manager guy is using. Ultimately we got the car right at their cost -- she asked to see that paperwork and everyone of them, all three sales guys who were now working after hours, including the young man I ended up buying from who was working on his day off to make the deal -- collectively groaned. She was there for serious business.

It worked out well. You should hire my mother to do this for you.

Pretty car too. The color scheme seems to change in the light. It has all that you've come to expect in modern automobile conveniences and then some. Your grandparents would be amazed what they can do with cars these days. They'd also wonder why it needs six Bose speakers (which, incidentally, equals LOUD). I'm wondering about all these things too. It is going to be a nice toy, and you'll have to pardon me if I'm a little obsessive compulsive about it for the next three or five years.

Don't look at it too hard or you might smudge something!

The taillights, the literature says, were inspired by jet fighters. I suppose you can see it if you look hard enough. They were so very proud of that fact though.

The literature says nothing about the headlights which were apparently inspired by aliens. Whatever the case, they are comically bright.

Overall I started the search wanting all the things we all want in a car, safety, enough power for the interstate, heat, air and stereo. The real wish list included four doors, a sporty look and something that doesn't look filthy from a mile away. At least on two of those I made a good choice. I guess well figure out about the paint scheme in the spring with the pollen where nothing can maintain a good appearance.

Do you know anyone that can be insulted without realizing it? I met one of these people today, and it always makes me chuckle, this mental exercise: Exactly what can I get away with before you catch on?

Hers was the sort of wit that can earn the admiration of your friends -- particularly if you have the sense to use it only for good. She was young, though, and still learning restraint -- something I picked up about six weeks ago. This nice young lady did not particularly find a discussion of the redeeming quality of the store's soups and sandwiches as something that would be fulfilling at this point in her day. And perhaps she was right, who am I to say? I mean, aside from being the customer.

She was a bit too sarcastic, not in a good mood and trying to be thinly witty over dripping contempt. She wanted to be pouring lava, but kill 'em with kindness and your B-material I always say. We sparred for a bit, and I finally let her win the conversation. Mostly because the ultimate retort would have led to me being asked to leave her fine dining establishment. You, oh unhappy one staffing a cash register on a Sunday afternoon, you bested me out loud, but I pwned you in my mind.

Used your owns words to do it too.

And if you delight in small victories in the ones in your mind are of the sweetest variety.

Beautiful day though. September went out like a mute. There was sun, but not heat. Air, but no breeze. Sky, but no clouds. It was a day that was intent on blending in. It didn't want to be noticed, because it knew there was more triumph in October. Big beautiful high skies are going to be around awhile, this day realized, and making a big scene out of it today wasn't going to mean a lot.

That's why we love the end of September.

In the evening it turned a bit cool. Cool insomuch as we hadn't felt anything approaching 73 degrees in some time. Mexican for dinner, listening to the mariachi band play in the other room. Found their myspace page. That, my friends, is the great equalizer of the internet. Here's a regionally touring band that, as best I can tell, plays a different restaurant in a different city every week. Sundays in Birmingham. You can find them here and hear them from anywhere.

For the record, they're better live than they are on the myspace page.

Though I've never heard them do Kokomo live and that's sampled on the myspace page, so that balances out things nicely. What doesn't balance nicely: the salsa bowl, which I promptly poured over the table. "No more tequila for you," the waiter said.

What are you putting in the sweet tea!? I asked.

Also, I've lost the football tickets. If you've seen them please return them. Either the folks packed them accidentally or the cats are holding them ransom for more tuna. This is a distressing development. Won't be much of a road trip in the new car if I don't have the tickets.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Slept in. Did nothing. Watched some early football of little consequence. Thus was the start to my Saturday. It is a good way to start Saturdays: lazy, usual, expectant.

The sun was out and shining bright, September knew it was falling off the calendar, but the seasons are perfectly fine without suffering a change. The last few days have been gentle and mild of the "everyday should be like this" variety. Everyday would be like that, and then someone would come along and argue for sweaters or rain or something. They'd release 1,000 butterflies in Asia somewhere in the hopes that one of these would be the one that shakes up the frontal system, bring in some rain, some cold blast of air and ruin it for everyone.

Some people would do that, but they would not get their way today.

Got the new car this afternoon. Signed off on the last of the paperwork. The easy part really. The serious paperwork was done earlier in the week. The big check was handed over today. I drove away trying to not think about it, but as I turned on the radio, and the XM, Steve Forbert's Middle Age was playing:
Middle age is hectic,
Much less time for fun;
Clearly it's a good thing youth is
Wasted on the young.

Repeat chorus

Middle age is telling,
Now you see it's so;
All those old, gray people aren't to

Blame for being slow.
Now I'm 30. I know that's not middle age in this wonderful and modern society. This is the first song I hear as I drive away in the car that makes my first ever car payment. That's some irony.

So that song's stuck in my head all day. Mostly because it is simple, but also because it is a bit telling. Best not to get into that, or there'll be a lot of handwringing and navel gazing for a Saturday evening.

I'll show you some pictures and give you some details of the car tomorrow. It is actually very nice and I'm sure you'll approve.

Today, though, there was a soccer game. Justin's Coosa Storm was back in Birmingham for another game today and played much better than the week before. The other team was just a bit overwhelmed defensively and things should have been much worse than the 3-1 final. Here's a goal.

This should have been another, but the game was in hand and instead of driving in or taking the open shot here this talented young forward dribbled into the middle of the field. He'd already scored on the day and things had long been decided so the coaches at this level tend to pull in their teams before greating a morale-busting rout.

Give them this though, many of the kids on both teams had better hair than their mothers.

I saw two fine goalkeepers in this game, which always makes me proud. The defense wasn't helping the losing team's keeper much at all, but individually they were both talented kids.

Here's Justin doing a victory dance with his son after the game and before dinner. We were at PF Chang's in the Summit, where I'm left to wonder: What does the PF stand for?

And, also, are they planning on beaming in aliens later?

It is always great to see Justin and RaDonna and Atticus. They gave us a studio portrait of Atticus in a shirt I'd made for him. He dribbled around for a few minutes on the soccer field with us, and by dinner time was fiesty in that fighting-off-sleep way that two-year-olds have.

He's two. Hard to believe it has been two years since they've left town. Best to not dwell on it, that's still more navel gazing.

Hopefully we can make it up for another Halloween adventure this year. Atticus, we hear, is going to be a soccer player. It should also be pointed out that father and son were wearing matching Adidas soccer flats. Right now Justin kicks hard -- I fought off a few shots after the game, but Atticus will take the old man one day soon; he's two and their teaching him technique already.

The Yankee and I listened to the end of the Alabama game in the car. The new car, don't you know. From what I gathered from text messages the first half was ugly and things never really came together, but they'll get there eventually.

We got a text message during that final drive that Auburn had scored early to go up 7-0 on Florida.. I'd TiVoed the game so after that I went into a media blackout, preferring the surprise of watching the big Tigers/Gators game.

So when I get back to Stoic Oaks all of the neighbors have been standing out in the street, as if there was a block party to which I had not been invited. Couldn't care, though. There was an Auburn game to see. I was about an hour behind from the action and couldn't take it anymore.

So the game got started and Florida got nowhere and Auburn moved the ball down the field, much-maligned quarterback Brandon Cox looking like a champion delivering the football with poise and ease. Auburn scored on their first drive, which I knew, but that's about when the breath-holding started.

And the game went on. Auburn went up by 14, going into the half. A lot of the lag time is made up here, because it seems as if ESPN didn't sell as many in-game ads this week. Somewhere in the third quarter, right as Florida climbed back into the game for real, we caught up to real time.

I am superstitious enough to pause it and walk away, as if that silly ad hoc belief that me watching the game from behind will counter the thousands of other spectators and their silly superstitions, to saying nothing of the 60 or so athletes who are playing the game.

But suspense trumped irrational superstition. Already I'd been struggling with the notion that I'm cheering and anguishing over things that have already happened. That I've been getting closer to realtime observation, but I'm still yelling at him to make the tackle or that guy to see the hole when it happened 45 minutes again. Time stands still, it is all new and these guys, they aren't mortal.

They're working on becoming legends, fending off Florida like this. I'd said on the radio yesterday that if Auburn played well they could make it respectable. That if they played poorly it would be ugly beyond words. I didn't really give them a chance to win and even my qualified answer was more or less scoffed at by the show hosts. No one expected this, but Auburn got out to a lead early, held on and have now, only at the end, allowed Florida to tie the game at 17.

Somewhere in there I realized that maybe the coaches do deserve their millions. If they can hold their breath this long they've a bigger talent that the rest of us. They look so calm and cool, when we're all half-paralyzed from fear. How Florida does this to fans I'm not sure, but we were this way last year too. Any other game the fans can be involved or apathetic, depending on the circumstance, but Florida is slightly terrifying in ways that parents can't explain, but little kids understand.

I felt that way for the better part of the second half. Only when Florida gave the ball up on their last possession did I truly relax, knowing the game was under control. I've only a cheering interest in this now -- I don't even know anyone on the team anymore -- but this game took nerves of steel nonetheless.

And that's when Auburn, after driving down the field, called in the kicker. A true freshman. They've said all along through the season and in practice that the kid's body runs on ice water. He stroked it through the uprights to end the game. Only Florida, as expected, called the last minute time out. Once again the kick must be made.

Icing kickers, any of them would say, isn't all it is cracked up to be, giving them more time to visualize the ball going through the uprights. And Wes Byrum did that twice.

So, someone give me my 18 jersey. The backup quarterback and starting kicker, both true freshmen, both wear the jersey and will both be celebrated folk heroes before their careers are done. Going on the road, a three touchdown underdog to the fourth-ranked Gators and beating them again. Wow. Tonight might have been the start of a legend.

Good way to end a Saturday too.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Had to work today. As the week began I was supposed to have Friday off to compensate for working this Sunday. But as the week developed the plan changed and we're now off weekends, meaning I had to work today.

Who cares? We get the weekends back. We officially love the interns.

So there was work, and it was quiet. All of the state, it seemed was either taking the day off or heading down to Florida for a football weekend.

(Speaking of football, I neglected to share with you the week's Auburn podcast. My bad.)

Anyway, after work there was golf, where we set out to play 18 on one of the many beautiful golf courses in the area. Only we're now at the time of year when teeing off at 4 p.m. won't get you through 18 holes. Did play 15, however, driving the ball fairly well, hitting fades for the first mystifying time ever. Smacked the 8-iron very well. Apparently the key there is to be a little angry and hit it as hard as you can.

On the first hole I put the ball over two trees and onto the green with the 8-iron. It looked magical, really.

Later I was on the 12th hole and on hold for a football phoner with the Sports Tap to discuss the Auburn-Florida game. With the phone held between head and shoulder I lofted a beautiful 8-iron about 80 yards from a thin rough onto the front of the green.

And then the phoner came and they asked me three questions, two of which had vague answers. When they asked if I thought Auburn could win I said if they played within themselves they would play well, but that if they played as they have the game would look ugly. I don't especially expect Auburn to win, but they do match up well against the powerful Gators. We'll see tomorrow night.

Ran out of daylight for the rest of the round of golf. Made two or three pars and almost had two more. The next time I visit that course again I'll play 21, just to get my money's worth.

Pie Day after that, where we met this cute kid. He was a big flirt.

Had the ribs, they were delicious again. As was the pie. Ward worked on his backhand and his long pour.

After that we played Helium Idol. Sang a bit of old school Nelson, Motley Crue, Journey and a few other things. The cook staff was impressed.

We've recently been using the helium a bit lately and I've noticed that other people give you long looks now. I recall a time when helium was an acceptable diversion, but now there are odd stares. Makes you wonder if you've overlooked some medical study that cautioned us all about helium.

Or maybe its just that I'm an adult singing tunes with the help of a noble gas. Maybe we don't see that often enough. Helium singers and day dreamers, that's what's missing.

Well, then, off to day dream.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I think I promised more history for today in yesterday's blog. Not sure why, perhaps this would be the least regarded portion of the detritus that floats around here, but I mentioned it. And then I began to wonder what I could possibly talk about, until something fell in my lap.

Wendy called me today to discuss next weekend's trip to Auburn. She'll be there as the University honors its 1957 national championship football team. She has a friend of the family that was on that team. A few years ago Mr. Jimmie Ricketts gave his letterman's jacket to Wendy's brother. Since then he's been going around collecting signatures from that team and having the jacket framed so that it can be displayed at the Lovelace Museum.

Wendy said that on Friday a week from now they're going to take Mr. Ricketts to the museum so he can see all of the displays, including his letterman's jacket. Half a century has gone by. Wish I could see his reaction.

The '57s are on the ticket for the Vandy game, but they also have a handsome display in the 1958 Glomerata. I scanned that, and Mr. Ricketts' student headshot and sent them on to Wendy.

And, since I have been behind on the other duties of this site the past two weeks I thought I'd share the 1957 team. Mr. Ricketts is number 52 on the front row.

Hopefully I'll get to meet him next week.

And that's it for the day. Watched a bit of television, enjoyed a delicious steak, got to talk with a dear friend. Played with cats, had a nice day at the office and had a relatively painless appearance at the bank. Because the day was going so well I decided to postpone a trip to the DMV. Next week instead. Wednesday probably, so make sure you come back for that. Oh, the stories we can share.

Come back tomorrow, too. There'll be golf, Pie Day, a big purchase and more.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Scrubs, brilliant show that it can be, has returned to the TiVO with a vengeance. I never caught the show in the original airings, but Comedy Central's lucrative syndication with their NBC relatives can show reruns quickly. Over the past year I figure I've seen most all of the first five seasons and now the sixth season, from earlier in this year, is now airing.

This is easily one of the funniest dream segments they've produced.

I watched that segment four times and cackled all the way through it. I'm trying to maintain my composure now as I watch it for the fifth and sixth time just so I can keep typing. It has the satisfaction of a few back stories, George Wallace in a cameo and the best and worst of morbid physical comedy.

Funeral bits shouldn't be that funny.

Nothing much else on the day. I've spent the evening straightening up the tiniest bit and watching television in much larger increments. That impulse to get the TiVo cleared has taken over once again.

So tonight Eureka's next-to-the-last episode of the season got the catch and release treatment. The show is still good, and they're now slowly zeroing in on a nice big story arc, but I miss the playful antagonism from the sheriff and the chief smart guy. Can't I have my science fiction, uncomfortable moments, cheesy effects and humorous angst altogether?

Denny Crane returned tonight as well, starting the fourth season of Boston Legal. A 90 minute episode, featuring an Alan Shore and Shirley Schmidt storyline that didn't go far, the return of Jerry Espensen and his various tics, a cameo by Brad Chase who went from being a partner to an assistant district attorney. Talk about a pay cut. Denny and Alan are as wonderful and interesting as ever. I think I've figured them out: They write their sentimental dialogue to Auld Lang Syne. It just has that warm melancholic twist of optimism every time.

Also John Laroquette joined the cast. We'll do him the favor of trying to not force him into the role vacated by Rene Auberjonois. Laroquette could use the break, while they seem to be aiming at creating a grittier version of Alan with him just now I can only look at him and see Dan Fielding.

The EvIl eye, through that pleasant green light, must be communicating with some subconscious part of my brain, alerting me that we've reached critical mass and things must be viewed and removed in short order. How else can things like 1950s western serials that I don't care about show up in the suggested viewings?

And, I guess, since the fall programming is back we should both settle in for more unqualified and hapless television reviews.

Word to the wise from the grocery store experience of the day: Don't drop yogurt. It will explode. Also, don't get between a woman and her rotisserie chicken. There will be problems. In those four sentences I've left myself notes to events that are humorous now, but will have me clueless before the holidays.

Short today, but more tomorrow, which will feature another football podcast, a steak, probably more history and more TiVo.

You know, the usual.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Oh, ho, Tuesdays you know.

The folks are back in town from Texas, having successfully completed their contribution to a family wedding. After that they scooted down to San Antonio to see the Riverwalk and the Alamo. Rick, a Texan by birth, says the visit is almost spiritual. I understand this. There are worse things than an old mission to be your mecca. I have never been, but plan on looking for the basement if I do make the trip. Mom says the place is treated with due reverence, so the basement searching may be inapprorpiate.

I'm all talk with the historical jokes. When I get there I'd be completely immersed in the fact that Davey Crockett once leaned upon this stone. He might have spat on this spot. It is the little things that really bring the continuity home for me. Sure there was a terrific and horrible battle fought here, remembered now with honor and glory. It meant this and that to the one side and the other, but this handle here, you see, someone touched this handle. That's the part I can never escape. I'm walking among the giant ghosts of normal men. Men who would have thought all of this a little silly, no doubt.

A few years ago I met a police officer from the next city over who was the Guy With an Awful Lot of Information. He told me all about Davey Crockett exploring the backwoods of Alabama in the 18-teens. The Hueytown officer was working a car wreck, I was just standing there and somehow we began talking about the frontiersman, who'd perhaps leaned against a tree just over that hill for all we knew. He'd been in the area and decided to settle in Tennessee instead. That's probably why they didn't name the place Daveytown.

Met the folks for dinner. They'd been due to come by the house, but a drugstore trip delayed them and threatened carefully orchestrated plans. Apparently the downside to a nationwide network is something that will lock you up like governmental bureaucracy. So, instead of riding together we met for Italian.

I was wearing a Ball State shirt -- the school my step-brother attends -- and Rick, being a tangential spectator of football asked about their team. I had not watched any of their games this year, Ball State not being a big television draw in this part of the world, but I did hear them giving Nebraska all they wanted last Saturday via satellite radio. Nebraska, like Auburn, suffering from the Cotton Bowl Curse, is not that good. Ball State, with 11 wins in the last three years, had two chances to win in the closing seconds, but Nebraska hung on as a freshman kicker yanked a 55-yard-field goal attempt wide. Just before that Ball State dropped a sure touchdown pass.

The Cardinals were a bit more sure-handed against Navy the week before. That's a fun looking play.

There is a Cotton Bowl Curse:
The past three Cotton Bowl winners have followed up victories in Dallas with sub-.500 records the next season. Yep, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Alabama know the curse. Two of the three coaches (David Cutcliffe and Mike Shula) followed triumph in Texas with unemployment back home.
And those are the winners. Auburn beat Nebraska in that game in January. Let's look at the three previous losers of that game. Texas Tech lost to Alabama in the 2006 contest. The Red Raiders went 8-5 the following season. Texas A&M lost to Tennessee in January 2005 and ended the next season with a miserable 5-6 record. Oklahoma State lost to Ole Miss in 2004 and rebounded with a 7-4 record for the next season.

So there you have it, of the last eight teams to play in the Cotton Bowl, one of them is above .500. Continuing the trend Nebraska and Auburn are both sitting at a very room temperature 2-2 on the 2007 season. Note to AD's everywhere: If the Cotton Bowl comes calling, just say no.

Wow, two tangents before we've actually discussed anything. This must be approaching a record.

I watched the first 29 minutes of Ken Burns' The War tonight. At this pace I might finish the 16.5 hour documentary before the next leap year. I'm wisely watching everything else the TiVo records first and then directing the EvIl eye to show me this epic documentary after that.

I'll catch it in bits and pieces with that method, but it is the sort of thing that deserves close study. You're almost enchanted against blinking given the beautiful old photographs and the promise of the home movies. The War is told through the eyes of four cities, picked at random. Because Mobile was one of those cities I had a good chance at doing a podcast with Burns, but his handlers couldn't grasp the concept that some of us aren't working at 6:30 on Friday evening or at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning.

So I'm missing out on that opportunity, which is a shame, because in all of the interviews about the documentary he's so very enthusiastic and passionate about what he and his team have done. From what everyone has said and seen so far, he's got good reason.

Just 29 minutes in you've already seen great snapshots of 1941 America, you've already heard one of the most horrific stories of war your imagination couldn't conjure. We've also met Katharine Phillips, an Auburn woman. She's from Mobile, has the delightful old South gentry accent and told the story of coming in from church as a sophomore on Sunday, December 7, 1941 to hear the girls in her dorm crying and wailing. "What's the matter?" she asked. They told her to turn on the radio, and as those tubes warmed up the world changed again on a far away pivot of history.

I have all of her yearbooks. Here's her headshots. You can see an excerpt of her interview for the documentary. She's a beautiful lady in any decade.

She also submitted this historic photograph of Langdon Hall. The picture on the right made the documentary, showing how they drove the loudspeaker truck up so that the students and the town could hear President Roosevelt address the joint Congress. Everyone has their head lowered; everyone knew everything had changed and that a lot of the brave young men were going to war and some of them wouldn't come back. To the left you see the reverse angle as people gather to hear the call to war.

I knew that photo from the Simms/Logue collection but I have it from the 1942 Glomerata as well. Cities and towns across the country have bits of history like that. The next story they told of the day of Pearl Harbor -- and the first 29 minutes of the documentary have been full with such stories -- are about Phillips' brother, enjoying an ice cream at a soda shop in Mobile where he heard the news. Everyone sat there quietly, he said, and ice cream probably didn't taste as good.

People always remember where they were when Pearl Harbor happened, when Kennedy was shot or when Elvis died. Folks can tell you what they were doing when they heard about the Beatles breaking up, what they were doing when Challenger slipped away or when 9/11 crumbled down around their normal lives. No one ever talks about how tasteless that next bit of ice cream was.

More tomorrow. The folks are heading home in the morning and the normal routines will begin to work their way back into place. Rick and I are going to stay up late to discuss electronics and history, so I should go do that now.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My mother is visiting me. Only she ls now off to visit someone else. She's right now in Texas for a wedding and a visit to San Antonio. She flew out on Friday, leaving Coco at "The Spa" while I spent Friday and today at work, and Saturday in Auburn. This evening I went to pick her up, where she was happy to see familiar faces, go on a ride and get home to sit on more air vents.

How spoiled is Coco? My mother left her at The Spa with a bed, toys, two bags of food, a chew bone, a rib bone and more toys. She came home with all of that, a check up, antibiotics and a 20 pound bag of food.

She's lovable. She's worth it.

And that's probably the most fun part of the day. Spent the afternoon catching up on the computer, erasing a few things from the TiVo and waiting to get Coco. After that we played and she ate and then I spent the better part of the evening straightening up.

Tomorrow I'll have more company. The folks fly back into town to spend the night. My home is a transit hub.

Elsewhere it is good that President Wecan'tpronounceyourname stopped by for a visit in New York City. The reactionists will take it as an opportunity to trump our tolerance and understanding. The reactionists on the other side will take the moment to extoll our virtues over his worldview. In this one thing we can agree at least somewhat, how we arrive at that point is a different matter.

Just imagine how you would have felt if you uncovered some old newspapers in the late 1930s discussing Hitler's appearance at Columbia University. Imagine if you read about that debate in those papers in 1944. Coy irony can be replaced by a more indignant thought with the power of a few years of history on your side. How would we feel about visits like this if we ended up in a n international situation more serious than economic sanctions?

In the meantime, there's always this.

True in any culture, that old saying about opening your mouth and proving you're a fool.

Fun links: Enjoy the history of humankind. I've no idea if that's accurate -- I wasn't there -- but some of those theories remain in debate. Still, it is interesting to see the struggle of man, thousands of years in one flash project. And, apparently, our ancestors ran really good pass patterns.

If the past isn't your thing, try the future. How's that beachfront property going to treat you in 250 million years?

Two pictures for your consideration. First, one gig two decades ago, compared to today. Finally, what's a ship doing in the desert?

And I'll leave you with today's podcast, affectionately titled "I paid $4 million for this podcast!?!?"

Worth every penny.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happy fall! Beautiful blue skies, big white fluffy clouds punctuated by darker blobs that would offer rain, but wouldn't seriously think about intruding on such a beautiful day.

The temperature reached 83 today.

That's how the day ended up, it started out a bit differently though. Walked outside into a sprinkling rain, made it to a soccer park across town where the trees and the field and the world conspired to beauty.

Today was the sort of day where, even though I got a late start, got lost and showed up half-an-hour late the game I wanted to see was just getting ready to begin. None of those things would get in the way today, the clouds guaranteed it, all but lining up in arrows to show me the way when I got lost. The clouds did not line up, so I had to call the coach's wife to get directions and in a few minutes I walked onto the field just in time to see the game.

My friend Justin coaches a club team in Gadsden and they were in town to play a team from Homewood.

The Storm, the good guys pressed forward early, but fell behind 2-0. They returned a score and continued aggressive play in their offensive third. There are some exciting strikers on Justin's team (see him in the background?) but the midfield and the defense are still coming together. He changed the formation early on and later his team allowed a cheap goal.

They played hard throughout the game, but ultimately the Storm stumbled, 5-2.

After the game The Yankee, Justin and I stopped by Jason's Deli for a sandwich. We discussed the game, plotted strategy, caught up on kid tales and spent too little time. If only I had another hour I might have convinced him to move his family back down here.

The Storm has another game in Birmingham next weekend, so that'll have to do for now.

Visited the big box store after dinner, where nothing of important interest happened. Things were picked up; things were forgotten from the mental list. Same as any other trip. For once there was a short line, proving once again the point how the line can make or ruin your trip to the store.

After that I coasted to the gas station on fumes -- is this a theme with me now? -- and then back home for a quiet evening to prepare for the week.

There were chocolate chip cookies, always good preparation.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Someone wanted to see the cars we've been talking about. This ain't it.

Not a big fan of the orange wheels, you see.

Anyway, back in Auburn today for more football fun. Saw this cute little guy roaming around. Oh you'd want to pet him, but his handlers assure us he's most certainly wild And he has the sharp teeth of the young. Lean little thing, all muscle and ferociousness. Didn't mind people fawning all over him though.

The purpose of his attendance was an awareness drive. He was representing Wild Animal Safari of Pine Mountain, Ga. So consider yourself aware.

Speaking of wild animals ... I'd like to introduce you to Wildman Steve who's a guy that's lived up to the name, or proven the name worthy, I've never been sure. I'm happy to say he hasn't aged a bit. We used to have him on the air to discuss new releases in his role as fashionably hip record store owner. About the same time I left town he closed up shop and went back into radio himself. And he's still out there shilling things for a local classic rock station where he plays more than the same Eagles song you've heard 643 times this week. The man knows his stuff.

He was standing in the shadows of where his store once was and, though he was working and I didn't want to disturb him, I wanted to go talk to him again. I wanted to see how many more wild tales he had, to see if it made him sad to look up to where his store once stood. But, with a name like Wildman, you probably don't turn on nostalgia quite that much.

Just two pictures of Nova, War Eagle VII this week. Here she's escaping her cage in the north eastern walkaround of the stadium. And here she's about to land after circling part of the stadium. I like that one simply because it has two of the iconic pieces of Auburn in one picture.

The following is one for the photographer's self-indulgence. This was the perfect six minutes of light for the day and I, well I used it to take a picture of lights.

New Mexico State brought in one of the statistical leaders in the quarterback position. And, for a time, he moved his team up and down the field. The Aggies were simply overmatched, even against a badly struggling Auburn team. And Chase Holbrook was none too happy to meet Quentin Groves.

Freshman Kodi Burns got the start for Auburn. His first six plays were quiet runs that led to two quick punts -- and a lot of scratched heads -- but on his third drive he unleashed that 58-yard bomb to Rod Smith.

Holbrook was tossing the ball around the place, though I'm not sure how this one was ruled incomplete. I was about 80 yards away though, and the referee had the presumably better angle.

Brandon Cox played most of the game for Auburn, and he had a bad fumble on his first play. From boos last week to supportive cheering this week to a mute sound from about 80,000 people that begged the question: Is this guy snakebit or what? He pulled it together and played within himself, a step up from the last few weeks.

More self indulgence: Enjoy the moon!

Fullback and folk hero Carl Stewart had a good day, opening holes that helped get the running game back on track against a porous defense. Derrick Richardson, there making an excellent open field tackle to save a touchdown, was everywhere though.

Ben Tate had 111 yards rushing and a score. Burns showed off more of the future in some garbage time late. Freshman Mario Fanning seems to have overcome some of his fumblitis, picking up 103 yards and three touchdowns on the night.

Tigers win 55-20.

We roll Toomer's Corner, casually listening to the end of the Georgia - Alabama game. The Bulldogs won in overtime, the yells from crowds only slightly beating the text message that brought the final score.

As we begin to fret about the monster that is Florida next weekend we make sure to enjoy the family atmosphere that is Toomer's Corner. Next week will be a struggle at best, but tonight, there's joy in the Loveliest Village on the Plains.

Friday, September 21, 2007

So they've given me this car to drive around last night and today. Help you make your decision, they say.

Can I pay for this? I say.

Drove it to work, tried out the CD player. Am I the only person, in this circumstance, that would pause their day to ponder the appropriate CD to carry along with me? These things matter. I chose a Counting Crows CD a bit impulsively -- it was early in the morning and I didn't want to be late -- but it worked for my cause. The stereo, and the 48 Bose speakers inside the passenger compartment are more than adequate. That's what the guy heading southbound on the interstate seemed to be indicating as we passed in the early morning.

That was the first odd thing of the day. It wasn't Twilight Zone, but it was in The Neighborhood of That Doesn't Seem Right or possibly down the street from Inconviencetown. Or perhaps the dreaded Events Are Conspiring Against Me Quadrant. This morning I drove in with a different group of people. It is fascinating to me how 15 minutes can six more cars added to the traffic volume can change every aspect of your drive. So there were more brakelights and less passing this morning. Not a problem.

Around lunch we all went outside to see the car. Took it for a six block drive, showed off the Intelligent Key. Made use of the Bluetooth. Realized this car is smarter than me. The car talks to me. It doesn't sing to me; I don't hear angels, but the car talks to me. Some designer was a little too inspired by Knight Rider.

So that was the morning. After work I was charged with taking the car back to the dealership. That's where the true fun began.

I avoided the interstates, deciding a little bumper-to-bumper red light traffic would be an important test of the car's important capabilites. Not sure what I'd hoped to learn from this, but the road is there, it seemed smart. There's also a giant climb between points A and B, as you have to go through Red Mountain and then over Shades Mountain. So we can test acceleration and climbing.

Only a van decided to get in the way. Halfway up the guy realized perhaps the left lane wasn't the place for him, leaving me the option to partially test the car, where I found myself pleased with the response.

Now, I impulsively decide, I'll take a big detour, turning right instead of going straight. I'll thread my way back down the northwest side of the mountain again and pick up a curvy road to test handling and performance there. I'm running low on gas -- the car warns me there's 30 miles left in the tank -- but the car's two different kinds of realtime mileage monitors and knowing the route so well suggest I won't have any problem making it back to the dealership with a little gas left in the tank.

So I take the detour, get behind another long caterpillar line of cars. This is no fun, particularly when one is trying to shake down a new car. The main intersection comes and goes and we lose a few of the slow pokes. The road runs to its inevitable T-intersection conclusion and a few more go left where I go right. I purposefully lag behind so I won't run over anyone. After turning right I make the next light at one of your more odd intersections.

Here you don't turn left, or right, where you would be riding the spine of the mountain. You don't even drive straight because the woods and the valley aren't very friendly. Rather you aim your car rightish, and then fall off the side of the mountain, swinging through a curve to the left, pulling a slight rise just in time for a subdivision and two sets of lights.

If you time it just right you can coast down the entire mountain in one beautiful motion. Grandma pulled out in front of me. Right in front of me. Narrowly clipping one another in front of me. We then rode our brakes down the length of the mountain.

At the bottom someone was trying to make an ill advised left turn without a light. A few yards up the street I came to the light and, when the automated gods of traffic deemed it appropriate, I turned left.

Only now I'm being tailgated by a police office in an SUV. He's talking on his cell phone. I know he's on his cell phone because he is so close to my bumper that I can vaguely make out the digits he's dialed. So I'm on a long straight stretch where the speed limit is 35 miles per hour. I'm in a dealership car with no license plate and this officer is checking my VIN from the driver's seat of his car. He's also examining the size of my shirt from where he's sitting. If he'd decided to pull me over he wouldn't have had to ask for proof of insurance, as is required by law in Alabama. He would have already seen it by riding on top of my trunk.

The guy was trailing close behind.

At the end of that long stretch there two railroad tracks. At those tracks I thought the police officer had made a nice down payment on a new bumper.

So now I'm almost to my curvy road. Coming down that mountain the warning about the range of mileage left in the gas tank has blanked out. Kinda spooky. The cop is tailgating me, running the vibe of my curvy road. And they've changed the road to accomodate a new golf course. I turn left when I should have went straight. At least the cop continued on, but now I must regain my route. And I must consider that I have "- - -" miles of gas left in the car.

Do you think they'd sell it to me for a discount if the thing left me stranded on the side of the road?

So I'm on the curvy road. We've forever called it Shannon Straights, you may call it fun or frightening, depending on how you feel about your mortality that day. There are no cars in front of me, no police behind me and finally I can stretch this car's legs.

And then I round a curve and an old man walks right out in front of my car. Never even looks up. Possibly for the best, because then we would have both been terrified. As it was, it was just me, so that works out OK. He was making his way to the mailbox across the street and I'm left to conclude that he's super deaf or this car is super quiet. Either way we were both more than slightly lucky.

When I got to the bottom of Shannon, full of great switchbacks featuring woods on one side and cut outs into the clay face of the hill on the other side, it is time to get gas. I've lost all basis of reference now; funny how that little monitor becomes a crutch so quickly.

I know there are at least three gas stations between where I am and the interstate some six miles up this two lane road. Two of them sit on the line at Hoover and Bessemer and one sits on the back of the mountain I've just been driving. I'll get a few dollars of gas there and return the car to the dealership, convinced that the car is haunted, cursed and possibly elements of the universe have considered this transaction and realized this is somehow the wrong move for me just now.

Make it to the first gas station and it is eeriely silent. This is the middle of the day. The station is dark, there's one car and the pumps look exhausted. The place is on a high traffic road and can't be much more than 10 years old. This is a BP and surely BP isn't closing stores. But closed and desolate it is.

You can always look at the big sign out front, read the gas price and guesstimate when the store shut down. This sign read $2.73 and, while obnoxious, was convincing that the place had closed only recently. Well, then, across the street, to the Kangaroo station, where the unfortunate colors are red and yellow and they're fond of putting marsupials in your internal combustion engine. Beyond that I know nothing about the place and can only hope they pump gas rather than water.

Only they, too, are closed. But there are people here. And we're all confused. There's a traffic signal within eyeshot and it is out. There's no power. The universe truly is lining up against me.

Back to the road, then, with no gas to spare. I make the next gas station, the one on the mountain, a Shell. It, too (or three?) is also closed and without power.

We might be pushing this car back to the dealership. I've barely even driven the thing and I certainly don't know how it responds to pushing on with only the suggestion of fumes. Gauges, as we've all learned from one stupid experience or another, are merely suggestive of a theme when you get down to the part of the drive brought to you by the letter E. There might be 20 more miles here. I might be coasting on the generosity of gravity. I don't know, and I need a gas station.

Passed the trucks working on the power outage. Thanks boys, and then quickly to another place with pumps. This time with the beautiful, beautiful neon glowing from inside. Power! Fuel! Savior from embarrassment!

Or so I thought.

Get out to pump, having noticed the night before that the tank was on the driver's side. Open the fuel door, slide the card into the pump, pull out the nozzle jam it in the -- "Clank!"

What the?

"Clank! Clank!"

The nozzle won't fit in the car. I guess the dealership has some device on the car to keep you from doing just this. I can't see the trick of it, or how to remove it. Finally I call the dealership, remind the guy who I am and start to explain the problem when ... Oh. Or it could be that I'm something of an idiot.

In my haste, in an unfamiliar car at an unfamiliar pump, I'd grabbed the diesel nozzle. Apparently they are sized differently, as a precaution against people like me, it would seem.

Return the car to the dealer, with the promise of a reimbursement for my gas. Drop the car off, apologize to old trusty for leaving it in a strange place overnight. I spend a few minutes convincing this terrific collection of inanimate objects that I'm not abandoning it given our long history. We've still got some milestones to cross together. It might get a new friend in the driveway, but it isn't being replaced. Yet.

We squeak off home.

I failed to get my reimbursement.

So that's my car day. Having lived it in a 15 minute period it was exasperating. Having told the story twice it is mildly amusing. I hope that part carries over here.

And that that old man got some good mail. I hope he won the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes for all the trouble he almost caused. I hope it was worth the risk. Also, sir, you might want to look to your left when crossing the road. Just an idea.

Went for Pie Day, enjoyed one of the more understated versions of the weekly event. They don't all have to be eventful, or singularly memorable, the continuity of it brings a lot of value to me. The most important things being the people we meet, the tales we hear and the pie we eat.

Once again Ward was introducing us to neighboring tables, including a hulking body builder of a man with more than his share of tatoos who was just coo coo cooing a baby as if no other such creature roamed the earth. It was out of place and beautiful and we know those people now. And they know us; no one seems a bit surprised or amused at the prospect of meeting people at the next table anymore. It is like they passed out a memo that all of your customers shall know one another and the customers have overheard of this new rule, saw the memo, have the experience and are completely accepting of it. Smiths matter of factly meet Joneses, we smile and nod and wonder if we'll ever see one another again.

We will. Over pie.

I also got two hugs, tea in the parking lot and left over chicken, so that was a success.

And now, long week winding down, I'll round out today's tale with one of the cooler discoveries of the week.

At 80 years old, and a six decade veteran of the music business Charlie Louvin is playing the Alabama Theater tomorrow night:
Thanks to Bruce Springsteen, the rock band Cake and dozens of other modern stars who've covered Louvin's work, the great-grandchildren of his original fans are buying his records and attending his shows.
The Louvin Brothers were big stars in the 1940s, some of the earliest brother acts that would later inspire The Everly Brothers, The Blue Sky Boys and more. Charlie's brother, Ira, died years ago, but the brothers had already stopped performing together, as this brief documentary segment details. It was a shame too, because Charlie is terrific, but his brother was magical. Ira was best known for playing the mandolin and Charlie would play the accompanying guitar for their bluegrass and gospel music.

From the Sand Mountain region of northeast Alabama they joined the Grand Ole Opry in the 1950s and possessed these almost other-worldly harmonies featuring Ira's haunted tenor. They swapped parts with one another throughout their songs, which is probably the direct influence, or at least an indirect influence on why my mother and uncle did that in church and while I still do it, to the amusement and horror of people within earshot.

They also gave us high quality murder ballads. I've known about the Louvin Brothers for a long time, but didn't realize for the longest time that the old standard was one of their songs. I have a copy of The Lemonheads doing that with a garage rock band sound. I'm not sure which is better: the bluegrass is wonderful, comical and sorrowful and The Lemonheads' cover sounds much more violent, appropos to the title of that Louvin Brothers' album: Tragic Songs of Life.

The man's been making music for six decades. There's a fair chance I'll hear his music, or his influence, in my new car one day. And 60 years on people will still be playing some of that music, whether they know where it comes from or not. Oh, the mediums will keep changing. The cars will come and go. The music will outlive us all.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

One more day on the car lots. About 20 minutes in my plan was to wait for a distraction and run over the hill away from the cars and the salesman and decisions.

The early part of this I like, the salesman is pleasant and shows you things and it is just chitchat and exploration. Now I'm expected to be fully involved and coming to conclusions.

It should be said that I can make decisions. If there were an emergency I can take charge without a thought. If I'm choosing some silly little entertainment for myself for the day, no problem. Deciding something for the pleasure of others -- like food -- or for the responsibility of myself -- like a car and a payment -- are a little more involved for me. The problem, you see, is that I'm happy wherever you want to eat. I'll have a good time doing whatever. All of these cars have merit, though. They could all be entertaining. They'll all take me to restaurants in comfort and style.

Over the course of the day I've basically decided against the Mercedes. We'll call that a fleeting fantasy. Nice to think about, but we both knew it was going nowhere. The Mercedes and I had a nice long talk, though, and agreed that we would still be friends. I suspect I'll never hear from that car again. But somewhere, a few years from now, I'll see a car with a similar design and paint scheme and wonder how my brief fling could have turned out.

And then the light will turn green and I'll be on to more important things.

So, as of this afternoon, I was down to the Altima and the Charger. Could two cars be more different? We drove the Altima again. Mom, still visiting for part of the week, decided to join me again today and she has a lot of valuable input. We've discussed many things about each car and are considering some feature of this or that when suddenly I see a new car I'd like to check out.

We were walking into the dealership to look at numbers on the Altima, just out of curiosity, when I what I really wanted to do was stall or outright stop the whole procedure. It is a nice car, that Altima, 2007 3.5L SE with a V6, it rides well, is a bit small in the back (but I don't ordinarily have that many passengers) and unavoidably red. There's nothing wrong with the car, but it just doesn't feel exactly right, either. I wanted to be free of the whole experience, in a way, because I'm now considering the Charger and the Altima and oh the agony, agony, woe is me and etc.

(I really don't take all this that seriously -- I know better -- given the real tough dilemmas I could be facing in life.)

But on the way inside to find some numbers on the Altima I see another car. Also an Altima. This one is a deep, rich blue. Instead of the blond cloth interior this one has a charcoal leather interior. It is a little more spacious in the back seat for tall passengers. It is a 2008 model. It has no miles -- opposed to the 5,000 dealers miles on the red '07 model -- and this is the SL, meaning more toys and options. The prices, somehow, are comparable.

We go driving. Handles well. Good acceleration, but I need to learn the brakes. It also has the same highly advanced transmission that runs on space particles. It has a Bose radio system and XM radio installed. There's blue tooth, a sun roof and sitting in it feels like your favorite restaurant booth.

Where I'd been finding all manner of nice things about other cars, but was still approaching "Meh" about them for whatever reason this car doesn't really send up the old ambivalence flag. It has nice lines, is cozy and could be something you could drive for more than a few months without the new wearing off of it.

Also, the literature says, the tail lights were inspired by jet fighters. They are very keen on this line.

So we go inside to talk about that car. I'll spare you the numbers and details. We discussed this car for hours. The dealer on his day off (seriously) and me getting punchdrunk while running through the 15th hour of my day. I'll just give you the highlights of the haggling: Whenever you buy a new car, you should take my mother with you.

I hadn't anticipated getting this involved with a car today, but therw we were, and luckily she was there. And she actually likes this part. She sees it, she says, as a big mind game. When she was done, she had them down to almost their price for the whole car, a manageable payment and a rock-bottom APR. This loaded brand new car could be mine for less than the one year older car that comes equipped with fewer features and a few thousand miles.

And so now I'll sleep on it. They sent me home with the car to give it more time to work on me. While we learned today that I'm a long way from being able to parallel park the thing, or understanding the dimensions from behind the wheel -- just like any new car -- it feels nice. Felt nice on the way to dinner, where we had Japanese steakhouse cuisine and I cracked an egg right on the spatula (the only person at my table to know the trick of it apparently) and told jokes with the young teenagers across the way.

And the car felt nice on the way home too. And the stereo, it is loud. Deafeningly loud. "I don't know where the volume stops because my ear drums have already exploded" loud. "That's what six Bose speakers sound like" loud. And probably some of the sound is trapped in the car's nine cupholders.

On the last road back to Stoic Oaks I finally had the chance to turn on the high beams of the car. The owners of one of those houses came outside complaining about the Rapture. The lights are daylight bright. It is amazing I haven't hurt someone in my car considering how dark those lights are.

Another selling point.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More cars today. I looked at a few online and stared inside a few on car lots. Is there any posture less revealing than the hand cupped to the face leaned over into a window?

"That guy" a bystander would say, "is stealing or shopping."

On a car lot, where you'd imagine security is fairly tight, you're more likely doing one than the other. I was a little disappointed in the response time from one of the guys inside, though. Maybe he'd been watching me, waiting on the hourglass to empty before stepping outside with his charm. Finally he did come outside, after I'd peered into a few cars and even found one that was unlocked. So much for that security.

He walked out all nice and folksy, and then halfway through his first sentence I had to crush his visions of a fresh sale. I'd already been talking to a guy in the dealership. He turned smartly on his heel and went to fetch the guy.

My salesman came out, a young, hardworking guy who knew or made up more about cars than anyone should. He's the type of guy that you root for because he could be out selling something more illegal, but he's actually working hard in a thankless business. And he's doing it because he enjoys doing it, rather than because his parents made him get a job last summer.

And you think, he's so young that I can take him. I can put one over on him and walk out with a song.

He and I discussed meeting today to drive an Altima. It was a 2007 and fairly attractive car. Seemed more responsible than the Charger or the Mercedes, for both power and practical reasons. We drove it, it has a smooth ride with a new highly technical transmission so you never feel a shift. It seems to run on gas and compressed air or something. As much as I would want to be more frivolous the Altima should probably rate higher on my current short list. For once, though, my very practical mind is swaying on an issue.

Again: can't make dinner decisions, probably shouldn't be shopping for cars.

There's a lot of solitary agony and this. And while the Altima is nice, so are several of the others. They all have redeeming qualities and they all bring some thoughts of hesitation. It is a decision I can't make today, but there are other days. Today there are other plans.

Tonight I was needed at the Cheesecake Factory where I could sit near the bar and help fulfill their suburban look. At the table to my left two guys were talking about a golf course somewhere. At the table to my right three women were laughing the relief of being out of the house for the evening. All this was happening under the faux-fresco ceiling.

The decoration of the Cheesecake Factory amuses. It is as if they are saying "We're serious about three things: Cheesecake, low lighting and faked modern historical art."

And though I've never studied art, I managed to pick out the faint Soviet-bloc influence on the left mixed with a nod to Renaissance Garden of Eden work and just a hint of Dr. Seuss.

I also enjoy the columns, which we'll say resemble a Phoenician style. Except for the forlorn masked characters near the ceiling. The traditional manic depressive masks are off putting enough, but these guys are just dour. Not while I'm trying to enjoy some cheesecake over here, OK?

Dinner was a birthday to The Yankee, who spent the day at the spa and opening presents and cards. She kept saying something about a chocolate wrap, and wanted people to smell her arm. It is a rather unusual request for strangers, but you're at the Cheesecake Factory, the place is pure hedonism anyway. Hedonism and chocolate, so why not?

And that's pretty much been the day. Something about the week is sapping the life out of me even before I begin. Perhaps I'm not sleeping well or perhaps I'm spending too much time in sunny car lots, but either way I'm pretty beat and feel like this has been enough for one day. This has pretty much been a full day, though, and you've read everything about it now except for a bookstore stop and my first trip to the Apple Store. I assure you, you aren't missing much from either experience.

And you should come back tomorrow so you're sure to stay caught up on thrilling car shopping tales. It'll be another gripping adventure that you can't afford to miss!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I dislike, very much, car shopping.

I'm not good at it. I'm not experienced enough. Clearly I do not understand the little dance the salesman and the customer are doing. I'd assumed there'd be more secrecy and gotcha than truth and humor. Maybe the secrets are in the jokes. I don't know.

Looked at four cars today with two salesmen on two lots. Drove two of them. The first one I looked at I did not drive. It is indoors and it seems to much of a process to ask them to move the car outside for the test drive.

One thing I have learned: Test drives on the showroom floor are short lived and salesmen disapprove of them.

So the first one, a Buick Lucerne, was attractive on the outside. The inside had a little too much grandpa in it for me. After driving the Intrepid lo these six years I've grown accustomed to rubber and molded plastic. Faux-wood as a decorative tool inside the car just belongs to someone else. So the first car is presently ranked fourth.

The second car, a bit smaller, a few more miles, a bit more stylish and luxury. Drives nicely and I wouldn't be driving around any wood paneling. Me in a Mercedes? A nice dream, but that's where it'll stay. Nice ride, though, so we'll say it currently ranks third.

Drove a Dodge Charger next. Oh my. It is a powerful car. Rides like a dream. Big on the outside, spacious in the passenger seats, but behind the wheel everything wraps around you. The steering wheel moves on three points, the pedals adjust, the seats move of course; you wrap the car around yourself. You step into the gas pedal and quickly surge to your cruising speed. And then you realize how much more the car can give you. You notice how far from the proverbial floor you are. And then you notice that the car isn't even straining. It is possible cars shouldn't be made with this much power.

The other car under consideration is an Altima. Didn't get the chance to drive it today, but that's scheduled for tomorrow. Nice looking car, has some neat features. Seems practical. That's tomorrow.

I dislike car shopping. The looking part is fun. They've got the salesman out here being my buddy, talking me up, developing a relationship. I'm skeptical enough to understand how that works, but the conversations are pleasant. They're light and airy. He's got lots of nice things to say and will let you lead him pretty much anywhere. On the lot the talk is fun and lighthearted. He's welcomging you into his world. In the office, in his world, discussing numbers is not quite the same. I much prefer the affable to the bottom line.

Can we just go outside and press more buttons and see what kinds of gadgets are in this thing? That'd be a much more fun end to the evening.

I did not buy a car, opting instead to go with the win-win of ending the evening with a steak. Friends and longtime readers might have seen all this coming, the slow decision on a purchase as big as a car. Especially given the occasional anguish that stems from the where-to-eat discussion. That's food. A meal. A steak -- tonight an easy choice and one that I made. Don't be stunned I made a decision: just don't make me make another one for a while. A long while.

This applies to cars, too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mom's here visiting. She got here around 5:30, Coco in tow, to stay for the week. She's flying out of here on Friday, returning next week and then driving back home. Until then she's enjoying the guest room. Hence the cleaning yesterday.

So we sat around and talked and gossiped, watched a documentary on the Duggar family and marvelled at what that must be like. When I knew Mr. Duggar they had 13 kids, now they have 17! Nothing about their lifestyle can be normal, and everything must require a world of patience and high volume (seven loads of laundry a day) but it works. Somehow.

How do you cook for 17? Enjoy some of their favorite recipes.

When she got home I was watching more of the movie I started Sunday. I didn't finish it; there was about 20 minutes left to go. Later that night I finished it, and so now I can tell you that one of the worst movies I've ever seen was Highlander: The Source.

Granted the first four movies weren't terrific. For what it was and when it was filmed the first movie was good. The sequel, so badly written that even the plot would later consider it a dream, gave way to a third movie where the bad guy was Mario van Peebles, which will tell you everything you need to know there. The fourth one was not bad, having integrated movie and television characters. But this direct to Sci Fi Channel fifth installment was terrible. And not in the good and terrible way, but in the actual poor quality. I kept thinking that it would improve in the second act, that the last few segments would really pick up the story. It did not.

Supposedly this is the first of a triology of movies, but seeing two more efforts after this no-continuity, no-character development, no-plot having seems a stretch. How they got the principle actors to reprise their roles is a mystery. Paychecks most likely, but given the effects and the below low quality soundtrack it is hard to imagine they spent money anywhere.

This movie was bad. I want those 80 minutes of my life back.

Mexican for dinner, with more gossip. You'd never realize there's so much going on in a family and a circle of friends until you have to sit down and hear about it and talk about it. If it had been months since we'd done this you could understand, but she was just here. How could so much happen in such a small amount of time?

Today, a podcast examining Alabama's dramatic win. Tomorrow, an Auburn podcast and we'll go shopping for cars. What fun!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cleaned today. Didn't want to -- it was warm, but so beautiful outside -- but cleaning needed to be done. Usually this means I don't clean much and today was no exception.

Waded through all of the laundry however. Straightened up here and there. Vacuumed. Held a few dishes while moving others all in the name of busy work.

Started what is promising to be a very bad movie. More on that in the next day or so.

And that was pretty much the afternoon. There were baby shower gifts to be delivered, but time management -- and an awesomely bad movie -- got the better of me. Suddenly it was time for the rare Sunday Pie Day.

There was one memorable moment that will make this Pie Day forever stand out. I can't share it here, bound to secrecy as we all are. We'll just say it was Ward's fault, we were all reduced to tears of laughter.

Some other customers might have been offended by the jocularity. But if they can't take raucous laughter with their slice of pie they might have picked the wrong night to join us. Also Taylor had a great time riding the horsey.

I brought home some of the hamburger steak, thinking it will be a delicious meal tomorrow. None of the pie was saved, but rather it was all inhaled greedily.

After dinner there was a Box Store trip, where three items were gathered and where it was realized that four cashiers were working and the customers waiting to check out resembled people fearing the apocalypse, or the Southern version: snow.

So back went the items, the value judgement being that paying $.40 more per jug of bleach and Drain-o (sounds like a science experiment, doesn't it?) elsewhere would be more appealing than wasting the next 45 minutes people watching.

Ordinarily I'm pro-people watching, but the Box Stores will test your patience and humanity. And on Sunday evenings you're just asking for trouble.

Who's shopping there at 9 p.m.? Everybody. Everybody except me.

I'm shopping at Publix, where shopping is a pleasure, where there's three-for-five-dollars deals and I can be in and out in under six minutes and someone else bags my groceries.

And then the girl asks if I, a strapping and healthy guy, need help carrying my three bags to the car.

I know the hair is getting silver, sister, but I think I can manage.

Now if she's willing to stop by the house on her way home and put the cleaner to work, then we've truly made the shopping experience a pleasure.

More tomorrow, where the new Monday Motto is: It doesn't even feels like four days until the weekend. Hope your week starts off with the same kind of energy.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

You'll forgive me for saturating the blog with eagle photos, but you have to see these.

So see them all: Here's another one. And another. Here's Nova, War Eagle VII, almost head on. And now she's swooping down.

Even Alabama fans agree, as traditions go they don't get any better than this.

The girl in that photograph is swinging Nova's bait around. On a good flight they can control her by how they swing the bait; if she gets too high they can drop it to the ground, if they want her to circle and soar more they cast the bait in giant arcs. At the 50 yard line she attacks.

And though it doesn't look like it in this picture, that golden eagle's wingspan is taller than she is.

When I was in school I knew a lot of the guys that cared for Nova's predecessor. We'd go out and watch them train every afternoon. A few years ago, at War Eagle VI's last Iron Bowl, she landed about two yards from me. That was an experience.

While giant predators soaring through the air and attacking the ground while almost 87,000 people scream at it is an awesome moment, it is maybe second or third on the list of traditions for most people at Auburn.

Of course the rest of those traditions are tempered when the team is struggling, as they are now.

The kickoff went well. But things spun out of control soon thereafter. Mississippi State scored on their first drive. Embattled veteran quarterback Brandon Cox threw an interception on his first pass. That one wasn't entirely his fault, but the second interception, on his very next attempt, earned him some blame and the scorn of the fans.

That was uncalled for; the booing. While it was both upsetting and comical in a keystone cops way the vocal displeasure of the fans was unexpected. Fans have booed coaches -- and they're doing that already this year -- but I've never heard them boo players quiet like this. It is a shame, really, and hopefully it will stop next week.

There were cheers for true freshmen Kodi Burns. He came on after those two picks and ran a few draws, some zone offensive reads and they even broke out the option. That was a lot of fun to see, but it won't win games in this conference these days. The defensive speed is too great. And the defense picked up on Burns' fairly thin playbook pretty quickly as well. After a while the draw reads and the screen passes weren't having the same impact.

Burns looked good in the pocket, but he made mistakes. Everyone expects that with a freshman quarterback, but the errors (he held the ball too long there, allowing De'Mon Glanton to force a fumble and a sack) were magnified by Cox's earlier gaffes. And the freshman running back put the ball on the ground again. For the second week in a row Auburn turned the ball over five times.

Who cares? This is what we're all about (say people faced with the reality of a down year).

This was ruled a catch. The replay indicated otherwise, but the call stood.

The defense, despite missing three key players once again because of injuries, played a fairly strong game. Quentin Groves and his dreds of power could not make that sack however. His next one will be for the school record. He's forcing that a little bit, and misplayed a key down late in the game, but Quentin will win out more often than not.

Kodi Burns throws this one into your hard drive. On the other side of the ball Antonio Coleman is a terror. Can't believe that guy's only a sophomore.

At the end of the game we all looked like him as Auburn couldn't get it done in a last minute drive, as Mississippi State holds on 19-14. Once again Auburn was close, once again they were flirting with hurtling toward disaster, but it all comes up short. Already it has been a long year.

Only going to get longer, too.

But there's always tailgating. And we start them young in these parts. Not to worry: she was enjoying a sparkling water.

She's also about the cutest little thing you'd ever see.

Wendy was there. And so was Jessica. We were surrounded by cuteness.

And then we got hungry. The Yankee and Wendy managed to convince someone to give us a ride to Niffer's, where I ran into Jennifer and continued my campaign to have her open a store in Birmingham. I love their sandwiches, I'd eat here every trip if I could. I'll stop at her place on the lake and dine there everytime I visit the water too. Now I just need to get her less than 90 minutes away.

Every so often I see her there and strike up this conversation. I don't revisit it, but rather start it anew, figuring she won't remember and think there's a big demand.

We had dinner with Wendy's family (who also took pity on us on the side of the road). Her parents, both Auburn grads, and her brother, also an Auburn man were there. We did what Auburn people do after a loss, cheer for someone to beat Alabama. But the Tide jumped out early and often. Later, after dinner, Arkansas somehow got back into the game. On the way home we listened to the end of the game. Somewhere just east of Montgomery -- where so many things happen -- my old friend Matt Caddell caught the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds. Everytime Alabama wins he should be the reason; that's my guy.

His father was one of my teachers in high school. A father figure, really, and I've known Matt since before he could outrun us all. He's had a quiet career at the Capstone, but this was his coming of age moment in the Crimson jersey. I've mentioned him on the blog several times before, and so you know that I couldn't be more proud for him and for his parents. They're all great, humble, caring people and Matt deserves all of the good things that come his way. He's certainly earned them on the field.

Even if my team didn't win, one of my favorite players certainly did, and that makes it a great night.

(Later: Here's a fan's shot of the catch. I love college football.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

This, for no other reason than I took it this afternoon, is Friday to me.

I left work and went up the road a few blocks under the most brilliant blue sky and big, calm clouds. I sat down along a wall and watched the sun move overhead and put me in the shadows. Leaning out from the edge I took that picture. I was downtown, it was almost rush hour, and I don't remember the noise of any traffic. Sometimes the city has a moment from Pompeii feeling. Time didn't forget us, but sound isn't a noisy neighbor.

And that's what a Friday should be.

Stopped by Charlemagne Records in Five Points South. It is your typical upstairs used record store where everybody knows your name. The local entertainment paper has called it a grocery store for the soul. I like that even better, but I'm always shopping for things on sale. Even my soul is cheap. Everyone in the place knows everyone. Or it always seems like they do. I go in the joint about once a year, rarely enough to keep me a stranger.

Even still, I left the place knowing two new people. The guy workign the register, in his breezy cool of a guy who's seen it all in a joint catering to college kids and the alternatypes. He could make conversation with the back of your head and you'd be impressed by his charm. The other guy was a little young for the shorts and black socks look, but he was an affable guy, ready for the next treasure hunt, fond of his running into eclectic people from the community in the most prosaic places and wondering if the bus would take him to the book store. To see him you'd get the wrong impression, but to talk with him you'd want to test him out for your little group.

There was also the man selling his son's music, curious to see if we thought he had anything good anything in there. Where is his son and why is this stuff being sold? For fear of the truth you sometimes can't ask those questions. They're on the outs. He's in the military. He died a few years back and the dad is just now moving on a bit. This is Friday, you stay away from answers like that, so you don't ask the questions.

Instead you go downstairs. This is the view facing the car. A microcosm of a city. Across the street from the Thai restaurant is the eccentric card shop, a dress store, a health food store and a place that would like you to have some new glasses.

No one ever really pays enough attention to the detail of the design features in that building. Behind it is a parking lot that serves a coffee house and a smoothie shop. I got a kiss in that parking lot once. Behind that is an all brick apartment building that has what must be the loudest bar in the world on the ground floor. The guy that runs the place moonlights at the airport. Or in a saw mill. He has too. You can hear the music from blocks away. A guy that once cut my hair lives in those apartments. He says the bar isn't that bad from upstairs. You have to scream your questions at him three times, but eventually he figures it out.

This is the picture I take on many afternoons. Only this one is three hours later than my normal time through the flyover and the sun also has fallen into that angle that tells your knees that autumn is coming soon. Everything does look a little softer. Except that cloud, which looks like a meteorlogical flying luckdragon set to swoop in on the Harbert Center, that pointy building in the middle.

Indian food for dinner. When I sat down there was one other table in the little joint with some high school kids eating. A while later an Indian man sat at a table nearby and explained the variations of the mango which is now allowed into the U.S. It is amazing what you can learn from strangers.

The little restaurant A-ha Bite is family owned and operated. The guy is a political science professor who's lived all over the world. His wife is an excellent cook and their son works at a nearby bank. If you like the spicy food they're going to set you up.

After that I stopped by a Ford dealership and peeked into the windows to look at cars. I dislike car shopping, I think.

Early day tomorrow means an early night tonight. Come back for football and photographs.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Rain today. A lot of it. More than an inch-and-a-half. These are the leavings from Hurricane Humberto, which appeared from nowhere, moved in on Texas, snuck into Louisiana and scattered itself across the region.

Humberto doesn't seem like much of a hurricane name, does it? In fact, many of the 2007 hurricane names are lacking:
Andrea -- That's a timid and petite woman. Possibly she owns many cats.
Barry -- Some guy who wasn't that interested in high school, and so he probably works there now as a janitor.
Chantal -- The girl who pursued you just a little too hard and wouldn't take the hint that you weren't interested.
Dean -- I can only think of Dean Martin. And then I want to sing.
Erin -- A cute woman with a button nose. No hurricane here.
Felix -- Doesn't he do odd jobs in the neighborhood?
Gabrielle -- The petulant daughter of a coworker perhaps?
Humberto -- The other neighbor's latin lover.
Ingrid -- She has a starring role in lunch lady land.
Jerry --I've already used Deano, so why not Jerry Lewis?
Karen -- Someone's friend of a friend that you meet that one time at that thing.
Lorenzo -- A middle linebacker.
Melissa -- The librarian.
Noel -- I'm dreaming of a hurricane Christmas ...
Olga --She does the food prep in lunch lady land.
Pablo -- If we make it to Pablo I will impersonate Slow Poke Rodriguez for the duration.
Rebekah -- Now we get biblical.
Sebastien -- The second hit on Google is a member of the operatic pop musical quartet Il Divo.
Tanya -- She comes equipped with a pipe and a plan to wreck your Olympics.
Van -- Just two notches of cool above Barry back in high school.
Wendy -- I have a friend named Wendy of course, and she'd be a terror as a storm.
On name alone, how many of these scare you?

Fortunately it has been a quiet year for hurricanes around these parts. We're suddenly a third of the way through that list and most people probably haven't even noticed. Unless you live in Central America, which seems to be the target of choice this season.

And if you're from there, hola y bienvenido el sitio.

Not much else to see here today. I changed the favicon, the little picture up in the toolbar. The old one had been up there for years, but today I stumbled across both a favicon generator and a font generator, so I decided to play around a bit. Variety is the spice and all that.

There's also a new background image for the blog. Those are some of the stoic oaks that guard the house. They're beautiful just now, in a few weeks they'll give me three days of grandeur and then three months of yard work. The lesson being: When you stop to smell the roses, make sure you realize how much longer you have with them.

And my apologies if the guy that planted them for you is on the list above. How ya been Barry?

Tomorrow: less rain and more things to discuss.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

September 11th came and passed quietly. Reverently for some, without much mention for others. But it arrived, and it disappeared. Most importantly there was a September 12th, which has been just as important the last few years. Maybe we're a little different than that September 10th, but we're a little wiser than that September 12th, too. And despite any criticisms of how much wiser we should be, we're still learning. Some of us anyway.

Which is political enough for the week, really.

General Petraeus testified before Congress, but nothing of it was surprising if you've been following along. In this way Congressional testimony is anticlimatic. Everyone knows who'll say what, and plans their response in advance. They write it out accordingly. And then others pretend to be surprised by what the second person or group said. And that part is played out for you and me and it grows tiresome, given what's at stake, given what we've paid.

But in these ways September 12th is much like the old September 10th.

So we are learning, some of us, but in fits and starts.

Watched Sergeant York today. The movie is great, despite spending 90 minutes on the farm in Tennessee. Perhaps audiences in 1941 wanted to learn more about the legendary war hero, but today we want to see what made him a larger-than-life man.

The war scene, when you do get to it, must have been a remarkable achievement for 1940s filmmaking, despite the corny war deaths. People were shot, threw their hands up in the air and twirled around before falling to the ground.

Alvin York would only sign off on the movie if Gary Cooper played the lead. Turned out to be good casting from the veteran: Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his performance. Cooper worked for a different company, but ultimately got the role. Gary Cooper? Who could demand such a thing? One of America's most highly decorated soldiers:
He was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, killing 25 German soldiers and capturing 132 others during the US led Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France.
With seven men and only a rifle and a pistol York captured a Company. All the while he was yelling, his diary says, at the Germans to surrender so he wouldn't have to kill them. The man was a conscientious objector and became a posterboy for America.

He wanted to re-enlist and fight in World War II as well, but he ended up serving on a draft board and by selling bonds.

(An hour later ...)

Sorry, I got stuck reading about some other Medal of Honor recipients. It is captivating reading about people, ordinary men in extraordinary positions, doing sometimes supernatural things. We should know more about them, really, but they fade away. Until the details are discovered anew.

Last year the site of York's heroic action was rediscovered. It took just 88 years, but here's the scene. What finally gave it away were the bullets. For eight decades people disagreed about where that happened, some wondered if history recorded it accurately, but everyone pretty much agreed York was the only one firing a pistol and the rounds from a .45 are what solved the mystery.

Pork roast for dinner, with these super secret spices and seasonings. I can't tell you about them, because you'd rush right out and make the dish and stop reading. I wonder what the seasoning would be like on Paula Deen's potatoes, which were also delicious. And since she would prefer you bought her books rather than get the recipes from me, that's what I encourage you to do.

They do make a nutritious combination though.

Not the potatoes. There's not much healthy about that recipe, which is why it is so good. Which is why the whole thing will also be lunch tomorrow.

Tonight was the first two hours of the fourth season of 24. The first hours are always a bit slower, but so far we've learned that the Turkish family that plots together stays together. Or something. Quite a few people died in the first episode, and there was another shooting in the second episode. Jack did none of this, as the bad guys needed to be established as bad. And they've messed with the wrong guy now, having kidnapping Jack's girlfriend and her father.

I think, just to be safe, if you know anyone with a name that even rhymes with his, you should end the relationship immediately. Err on the side of caution here.

So the bad guys are doing bad things, but Jack has shot a guy in the knee. The truly good news is that he doesn't work for CTU just now. If he went off the page when he worked for them imagine what he'd do if he doesn't need their paycheck. The next 22 hours should be worth watching.

So is a storm brewing in the Gulf. Humberto. Though he won't effect us personally, we'll have fun with him tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'm generally inspired by the people and environment that surrounds me. Today, for example, I had lunch with a friend who is a comedy writer. I enjoy trying to make him laugh because when I do I'm left thinking That's good humor there. He'd know, right?

I had a great little paragraph going, and he's chuckling along to the joke's obvious and random conclusions. I'm thinking that this one has potential if I don't mess up the delivery. And I'm also thinking that I should remember this joke because it'd go great on the blog.

Apparently I hung out with an amnesia patient later in the day because that's rubbed off on me and the joke is gone.

I'd carry more notebooks, but they are sometimes misplaced. Whichever one of my friends that has the undiagnosed short-term memory loss -- and I suspect that you know who you are, unless you don't -- I'm going to have to keep my distance. You're hampering my ability to recall fun, interesting and unusual anecdotes.

I should meet more people with anecdotes. Maybe those will rub off too.

I interviewed an Auburn writer, Jay Coulter, for a podcast today. Things are so bad that my first question was "Is it bad or is it real bad?"

He, fortunately, opts for merely bad. We'll see, but I tend to be a pessimist when it comes to these things. Ironic, really, in all other things I'm an unfailing optimist. Put 11 guys in pads and matching outfits on a big stretch of grass and I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It's fandom tempered with realism, really, which some of us are forgetting. Every now and then a team struggles to fall under your expectations and you find yourself muttering the quiet of the night "How can they do that!? What's gotten into them?" But they're trying; the other guys are trying. Something gets lost or forgotten or mistaken and then, even from the beginning your whole season is turned on its side.

Or it once was. We've done this enough, now, that you just take it as part of the larger whole. One game, one season, doesn't hurt much of anything, really. As a spectator my needs and desires have changed. I attend games solely for everything surrounding them. And we'll get into that all some day soon. When Auburn has a good day worth writing about. For now, we're stuck with thepostgame autopsy podcast.

Like how I strayed away from the topic but brought it back to the center line? I'm a bowler with good english. Only my English isn't always perfect. (But I do appreciate your help whenever you point it out!)

Watched a documentary on the SEALS in Grenada this afternoon. The documentary does those guys a small disservice in humanizing the players. SEALS, as a rule, should be like Charlie Sheen and Michael Biehn: unstoppable, imperturbable. Biehn has four movies due out next year. See? Unstoppable.

Anyway. Grenada was the first Special Operations insertion of its kind, the one from which all else stems. And the details are very interesting and not without mistakes. Poor intelligence, communication problems, using tourist maps, you name it. Despite all that they got the job done. Maybe they are imperturbable.

But still, Michael Biehn is Michael Biehn. He defeated the Terminator after all.

Finished 24 tonight. The third season, that is. Bad guys: Killed or captured. Good guy's: Alive. Day: Saved. Fire ax: Used incorrectly.

You know, watching the last scenes, I was left to wonder about that ax. There's no way they would have equipped my middle school with an ax at arm's reach. Jack Bauer clearly proved why that was a good move on the part of my school system's administrators. Apparently the Los Angeles educators didn't get the memo that Jack was on the job. Or maybe they did and thought, "Axes for everyone!"

Which would make for a great campaign slogan if you think about it.

Sadly President Palmer withdrew from his relection bid, leaving us all to wonder who serves in that role in the fourth season. I don't think it matters; my prediction: Jack goes fishing.

Just imagine it, 24 hours of Jack sitting around having a nice, peaceful conversation with Bill Dance for 24 hours. Viewership would soar!

Or not.

Finished the night off with laundry and a documentary on the DUKW. That ugly little boat-truck-thing did more than its share to win World War II, the least I could do was stay awake and watch another hour of television on the subject.

My TiVo made me do it. This was another suggestion from the EvIl eye, which has decided that, lately, I'm on a military history kick.

Since staying awake is becoming a chore of its own, we'll wrap things up for now.

Thanks for stopping by, and come back tomorrow for more fun!

Monday, September 10, 2007

On second thought I should have never tried to go to sleep last night. I could have been more productive with the time. By about 1 a.m. I'd had enough of being wide awake and willed myself to snooze. Half an hour later that took hold, leaving me to sleepily wonder this morning why I can't will myself to sleep sooner.

There was nothing worth staying awake for, as I found myself flipping between The Italian Job and Spider-Man to avoid Hollow Man 2. And then The Time Machine came on. Guy Pearce remains a poor man's Val Kilmer. A very poor man's Kilmer. Something about the jaw. But the scariest part of the movie remains the rubberized faces of the bad guys. Not because they are scary in a frightening way, but in an "I can't believe this passed Warner Brothers' muster and then was nominated for an Oscar for makeup" way.

I'm long since on the record for the usefulness of the Oscars, but that's how late it in the evening it was, how awake I was: wondering about such things.

Apparently the winner of that award, in a category full of two, was Frida. Haven't seen it, but already the promotional poster is better.

I like how they take a nod at the early 20th Century in Time Machine though. It is so neat and orderly and clean. An extra, who shows up twice -- and in this case it is not a mistake -- uses the word perambulate when talking about his newfangled auto-mobile. And then not-Kilmer's love interest dies, he spends the next four years obsessively writing on chalkboards and from that invents a time machine approximately 100 years before Uncle Rico can do the job.

He then scoots to the past, can't fix things and then, somehow, decides his answer lies in the future. He zips to our near future and, much to his dismay and ours, we aren't that much smarter. Though Orlanda Jones as a holographic librarian with attitude -- the kind every librarian has wanted to give you, ever -- is a great bit. Farther still into the future there's chaos. And it isn't war that's tearing the world apart, but the silliness of man. Here that's fine, because it is a silliness that you and I and our grandkids are still far removed from, so it isn't insulting to your humanity. And the bad thing that does happen, the moon exploding, is a mistake, and not treated in some way as to hint to mankind's inherent greed. If only Al Gore could have warned them, though, our hero wouldn't be thrust some 800,000 years into the future.

Where they still speak English, The Stone Language, and the bad people with overly pronounced physical skills and overly rubberized faces come into play.

Finally I went to sleep.

Today the week has been given to football. Did a podcast on the Alabama game against Vanderbilt and the upcoming Arkansas contest. Todd Jones joined me for that one where we learned that the Tide haven't showed everything yet, won't until they have to and are going to win a lot of games. Todd's a bit of a fan, but I enjoy his optimism.

Hopefully we're going to do frequent football podcasts during the regular season. And tomorrow we'll examine Auburn's demoralizing loss to South Florida. Wednesday there'll be even more football podcasting.

And this evening I was on The Sports Tap a regional sports talk show talking about the Auburn game. You can hear that audio on the recordings page or by clicking here for a handy pop up box.

Found out what spoiled mushrooms taste like. It hadn't been the intention to do so, but there was spaghetti, and so there was sauce. And some extra mushrooms that would soon spoil, so they went in the sauce. And the first sample bite had a mushroom in it and it was a good thing, because they were pretty foul. A second bite proved no better. Remove the mushrooms, heat and serve. The sauce, I decided, was missing something when I put it on the noodles. Could have been the rancid fungi.

Seemed like a good idea at the time though, and that's what counts.

Also, if you find me hallucinogenic or out of sorts that could be the unfortunate side effect. Just something to keep in mind if you feel the need to control the Poison Control Center.

How many times a night do you think those guys have this conversation?

"Poison Center Hotline."

"Uh. Yeah. I uhh, have a friend who might have taken too much of something."

"A friend?"


"What's his name?"

"Uhh. Bob."


Our perceptions of names is a funny thing. My roommate in college was named Jones. Think about this for a second. Smith and Jones. We couldn't even get a pizza delivered. Imagine if we had to call someone important.

Someone like Jack Bauer at CTU. Now there's a strong name. Strong name for a strong man. And in tonight's two installments of the third season of 24 we've learned that not only does Jack possess the ability to influence and persuade almost anyone he meets, not only is he a marksman and a skilled torturer. He's not simply a man who can go a full day without visiting a restroom or eating a meal. He's also an excellent power point presenter.

You can see why the government snapped him up and put him on the front lines.

In the second installment the bad guy is caught, but this down in the Los Angeles drainage system, where you so rarely see operatic ladies of the large persuasion warming up. Regardless, F-18s blowing up civilian bad guy helicopters is a good enough setting for me.

There's only two hours left in a fine season of the show. Those'll likely be tomorrow night. Now, though, I'm going to try and catch up on a bit of that sleep. Silly Time Machine.

If I had my own time machine, you know, this sleep issue wouldn't be a problem at all.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Cut the grass in the heat of the day today. That heat's been wimping out lately. The sun could do more, but knows it has done enough for a while.

We'll be in the 80s all next week and it'll be bright and beautiful. Today it hit 90, just as I was finishing up. This does nothing to diminish the 92 at 8:15 we enjoyed Friday night, or the 83 and humid at 11:15 last night when leaving Auburn. They'd promised low 70s on the Plains last night, but did not deliver. Meteorologists are crazy kidders. Where do they come up with this stuff time after time? It is the same material, but they always pull it over on us. There I was, standing downtown, sweating and staring at a thermometer sign, wondering how Auburn can play that offensively.

I could hold a morbidity conference on the thing, but people will figure it out soon enough. It wasn't for lack of effort, but lack of execution. And, at the end, perhaps a lack of thinking on the coaching staff's part.

I didn't get to see it -- because the TiVo and ESPN conspired to make this an almost four hour game and I neglected to set the overage -- but I read that Coach Tuberville looked genuinely perplexed at the loud boos he received when he sat on the final two time outs and opted for overtime.

He was perplexed? You should have seen the people in the stands. I surmised that it was a lack of confidence in anything the offense could do, and immediately felt that game's last tigernail, and much of the season, slip away.

And so they went to overtime. Which I dreaded, thinking that Auburn's defense was doing miraculous things, but it can't hold up. Also, overtime is predicated on your being able to drive 25 yards and score, or prevent the other guy from doing, and holding a kicking duel. Auburn would have one that duel, but can't drive 25 yards offensively right now and, unfortunately, couldn't hold South Florida down indefinitely. Those guys had to be exhausted, and I felt badly for them all, but from this, hopefully, they'll grow.

The grass will too. And that's why it needed to be cut. And the mindless time going back and forth let me think too much football. Until one of the neighbors caught my eye. He'd been standing there for a while, I'd watched him from a good distance out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned directly toward him he proudly waved his Alabama flag as if to say "Ha, my team beat a team it was expected to beat and your team lost to a team that some thought would be an upset but, really, they probably should have beaten going away."

He had me there. I could do nothing but wave in return. Instead of the point or snapping off a smart Boy Scout salute as would be the normal custom I waved with my hand and fingers fully extended as if to say, We've owned you the last five times.

Being an Alabama fan, I doubt he understood the subtle meaning of my reply.

Returned to the library this afternoon to pick up the rest of the third season of 24 on DVD. The EvIl eye misbehaved, recording only the first 13 minutes of the next two episodes in what is the first TiVo betrayal that wasn't my fault. The third season is really good, and I wanted to see those hours. Watched one tonight and, unfortunately, it is getting late or I'd watch more.

This show is so well done through here that even in long stretches of these characters you want more from them. It is asking a lot of any audience to have them invite characters into their homes for an hour. Getting invited back again is a triumph and doing it over and over is a huge undertaking, but here I'm content to watch hours and hours at a time. Makes you wonder how they went from such a strong program to the disappointments of the sixth season in less than a day.

I knew someone should have given Jack a sandwich.

I had pizza, myself, from Mellow Mushroom. Delicious and breakfast tomorrow. Can't go wrong.

For now, the grass is trimmed, the dogs across the hill and valley are quiet and the crickets are preparing their final symphonies of the summer; let's all go listen.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

I call this two people who may not belong in the backfield.

Given the alternatives, and how the coaches feel in general, don't expect any changes. Which is depressing in a we-couldn't-beat-a-team-that-didn't-want-to-win way.

Give it to this defense. Missing four starters they still made some of the best stands you'll ever see. Those kids played their hearts out and deserved better.

The offense ... well, the fans deserve better. 26-23 in a loss we saw coming. Ye (football) gods.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Woohoo! Friday! I shouldn't be this excited, simply because I only worked three days. The courteous thing to do would be to celebrate quietly, along with all of my tired friends who had to work five days this week.

Poor saps.

Nah. I celebrated in my own style, by going to Wal-Mart. I'm the guy your mother warned you about.

Picked up a few things there, bought a sunset on the impulse aisle.

Sat down in the noisest section of the restaurant where Melissa joined us for a while. When I got settled Ward walked over to give the firm handshake of sincerity and offered a "Welcome home." He's also wearing a black apron with white pinstripes that are wide enough to look like an alien race got the 1920s styles almost right. It makes you want to sing Robert Palmer tunes for some reason.

The pie was delicious, of course. And so was the potato, of course. Ward stole my camera and ran through the kitchen snapping photographs in the shutter burst mode. There are some interesting pictures there. In thousands of years some archeologist will dig up my hard drive, make it work, browse to the September '07 directory and marvel at my artistic flare to capture the working man in his environment. Unless they find this blog first they'll be mistaken at who took the pictures.

Speaking of photographs: the August shots are now up on the pictures page. Enjoy.

At home a bit more 24, including the most uncomfortable and morbid five minutes of network television ever. It was so uncomfortable I'd like you to see a remake of it.


Tomorrow is more football. A late, late game. So I'm sleeping in and hitting the road. Hope your team does well. Hope mine does too.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

More naps today. I slept through most of yesterday and all of last night. Took an almost two hour nap today. Some would wonder what is wrong; I'd wonder too if I felt bad, but I feel just fine. I can only guess that this is the seasonal slumber that'll get us through Thanksgiving or at least October.

One can only hope.

Watched part of PT 109, mostly for chuckleworthy reasons. The idea of a bemused young Lt. Jack Kennedy has always made me smile. The first half hour of the movie, then, is unintentional comedic gold. Also, there's the thought that Kennedy, still alive when the movie was released, thought the then relatively unknown Warren Beatty should have played the lead role.

The movie takes a solemn turn when the little boat is sliced in two by a Japanese ship. From there the legend of Kennedy would be born.

I slept through that part though. Woke up just in time to do some computer work. Enjoyed a few minutes of the NFL opener and, suddenly, have found that it is time to consider wrapping up the day.

You'd think, with all of this sleep the last two days that I'd be wide awake. You'd think that. I'd think that, but certain yawning, blinking, sleepy parts of my brain disagree. And since there'll be no nap for the next few days, I should probably stock up while I can.

Bet I don't sleep through the night.

And you can bet that there'll be something of slightly more substance here tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Nothing of substance to report about today. Came home, watched the end of the Auburn game from the TiVo, otherwise known as the last four minutes. I've been reading all the silver lining stories the last few days in the analysis of the ugly win and I must say, while I'm no coach, I just don't see all the good things they'd like us to see. Some of those things, yes, but not all of those things.

Should make for an interesting season.

So I watched that. The rest of the day is sleepy and odd. I fell asleep watching Becket, a movie about 12th Century England and King Henry II and the Archbishop of Canterbury who were friends driven apart by, well, themselves. Much later in the evening I woke up, to move around the house a bit and then ultimately fall asleep again while watching The Dirty Dozen, the perennial cable war movie. These movies are eight centuries and three years apart. Now they're both dancing through space and, in a few millenia some other species will stumble across the the signals, figure out how to salvage the data and truly wonder.

If there's anyone still around here when they get around to looking us up maybe they'll do the research and explain to the new movie audiences that they both won Oscars. Right after they explain what Oscars are.

And that's the day. I think I'll go fall asleep once again.

If you'd like to see something really interesting while I snooze I'd like to introduce you to

hip hop violin
. That's Paul Dateh, not just some college student, but a highly promising young musician. All of it good stuff to discover on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Spent the better part of the day on the lovel campus of the University of Alabama. It was fairly hot, I was fairly in jeans and so I spent most of my time in the wonderfully air conditioned library.

That's how I spend my off days. Actually the day started with getting my car delivered to the shop for what was, I hoped a simple starter replacement. That'd be good considering the starter that was on the car was a few cranks over a year old. I'd have words with a mechanic in Atlanta about that if it would accomplish anything.

Instead I'm on campus, reading books, playing with the iMac (beautiful...) and wondering if I'll be able to get the car back today.

I also got stood up today, by someone who shall not be named. That's twice, though, and I'm beginning to take it personally. Personal in the you're-the-mother-of-three trying-to-make-tenure-and-should-meet-with-me way. Another time perhaps. Perhaps. My scholastic heart just might *sniff* be broken.

I'll try to be strong. I'll try to be resilient. I'll just track down other former professors instead.

And that was pretty much the day. Got my car back at about 6:30, pronouncing this as possibly the last repairs I'll make to this car. But we won't talk about that in the car's presence. Don't want to hurt the feelings of the mechanical beast of burden that's towed me around all these years. It was the starter. And starters aren't cheap. It could have been far worse, so you take your lumps and move on.

Moving on meant the grocery store, where provisions for the week were purchased and nothing of excitement happened. There's pizza for tonight and either burgers or leftovers for tomorrow. The week's dining has been accounted for, providing a sense of security, that nirvana you can only achieve from almost breaking your fingers carrying all these groceries in on one trip.

Otherwise there was television, watching another episode of the third season of 24. There are about eight hours left in the day and it remains a good season. This might be the high water mark for the show. I'd suggest as much, even argue for it, but the first season was pretty good, insomuch as it had to establish the parameters for the innate toughness of Jack Bauer and the stupidity or paranoia of the people with which he associates. The second season reaffirmed what we'd all realized: Kim Bauer should be institutionalized whenever there was a matter of national security in the best interests of all those involved. Now she's at CTU where she's admittedly been in less trouble, but is still in the way a bit. The bioterrorism bug is bio-rrific and there's nothing like nasal bleeding and organ liquification to make your evening a bit brighter.

I'm guessing that the fourth season is equally impressive. We were certainly pleased with the fifth season, having jumped on board at the start, but not understanding the players, the universe's rules or the incessant need to mention Nina Meyers. She was offed a few hours ago, and that was an offing that needed offing. But. And still. For the sake of television I come down on the side of an eye-for-an-eye. And if the television henchwoman kills your wife by shooting her in the stomach, then the henchwoman should get the same treatment.

And that's one of the fundamental problems with the show -- save the sixth season altogether -- the ultimate revenge deaths just aren't as revengey as they should be. Consider any of the high-end baddies that Jack has been chasing for a while, what they've done, how they've betrayed Jack, what they've put him through. A pistol just won't do.

There was a telling scene in tonight's episode. They were looking for the bad guy by referencing people Jack had worked with and he had them look for people that Jack had worked with that were presumed dead. A few keystrokes later and the page was filled with people that Jack had been associated with that were presumed dead. Successful morturaries have fewer contacts. No matter what the union benefits are, they aren't incentive enough when it comes to punching the clock with Jack Bauer.

Also watched the new Eureka episode this evening. Someone was working outside the rules and invented invisibility. Radiation, apparently, being one of those problems. Some synthetically enhanced human skin from a car -- designed to repair dents and dings -- saved the day. Oh that pesky invisibility and the wacky things it'll get you into.

They've got one underlying story arc that they're holding on a slow burn which could be dramatic and gratifying, but everything else is smart and simple and cute and perfect for a summer series. And they invent great things, like the cure for the common cold which, says the pharmacist, is too expensive to produce commercially. It is such a charming little show, last week's having been the weakest one to date I think, and I hope it goes on forever.

Unlike this post, which wrapped itself up about four paragraphs ago.

Check out the latest on the newspapers' page. Four new entries this week, where FDR dies, and the war ends in both Europe and Japan. See the latest here.

And we'll see you for more tomorrow.

Monday, September 3, 2007

And on Labor Day I labored mightily on the golf course.

Hit maybe four balls well out of the tee box. The medium irons were fairly inconsistent. The short irons behaved nicely. I'm still putting far too much. Despite a thoroughly poor-feeling and dissatisfying performance I finished just two strokes over my goal for the day.

The Yankee, before long, will be beating me on the golf course. She has a nack for just missing on putts more than anyone should. I must improve before she does.

On the other hand, the balls gained versus balls lost went decidedly in my favor on the day, so there's no real complaints there.

I wore a UAB shirt today and a guy asked me about their football team. Out of habit I was thinking of the Auburn game, and had to rephrase all the answers each time he asked a question. His cousin, the guy said, is an open heart surgeon. She's operated on Dick Cheney and a few rock stars. That's an impressive photo wall. Why I needed to know this information I'm not sure, but if any of my relatives did anything like that I'd tell random strangers in a parking lot about it too.

My cousins will not be peforming surgery on anyone anytime soon. If they do something has gone horribly wrong and you should run in any direction labeled "Opposite."

The guy at the golf course cut me a deal, and the girl at the grocery store was quick and efficient, though she apologized for almost forgetting to ring up the watermelon, which is light and just a little shy of perfectly sweet and ripe. The grill performed admirably tonight, submitting delicious cheeseburgers to go with a nice pot of beans. The lemonade had just the right tang and sugar combination.

There was much television and the prospect of another day off tomorrow -- how could life get any better?

Oh yes. My car could start.

But that's a trouble for tomorrow.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Worked today, where I did work things. Work was done. Some things were broken, and they were fixed, hence, work.

The clock said something like 2 a.m. when I fell into bed this morning. It blared an evil tune this morning at 4:30. About half an hour later I gave in and started the day. I'd dreaded this, the sleepiness of it and the work wasn't overly demanding -- we're in full on sports mode now and both sports guys were in the office -- and so things moved along easily.

When I got home I took a nap. Slept for about two hours, and it took almost that long to wake up after the fact. Stopped off at the Mexican joint, but even the mariachi couldn't do the trick. The caffeine hadn't kicked in yet.

I promised you a few photographs from the post-game celebration last night. Here's two:

Auburn students, alumni and their families roll Toomer's Corner after a win. We didn't stay for much of this tonight, having the long drive and an early morning, but I'm hopefully for seven more opportunities after home games to take pictures, enjoy the atmosphere and tell you about it this season.

On the way to the car I met this little girl. "Why is she still awake?" her sister laughingly asked.

Why am I still awake?

That was a four hour game last night. I like long games, but sometimes things should move along a little quicker. Television time outs and no running game from either side slowed things down. Fortunately it hasn't hurt me too much today.

Tomorrow I have Labor Day off, and I'm going golfing. Now I'm set to watch a few more episodes of the third season of 24, before turning in at a reasonable hour. It'll be nice, too, to wake up long after the sun has come up.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

This can only mean one thing. Football on The Plains.

Stopped off in Calera for a Cracker Barrel breakfast on the way to Auburn. Made it through Montgomery and the turn east with no incident. Snuck up on Auburn before a lot of the traffic started pouring in. Many people were there already for the pre-season tailgating, but the day trip folks hadn't shown up yet. Pulled in just after 1 p.m., drove around for seven anxious minutes before finding a spot just in front of City Hall just a block off Toomer's Corner.

Walked up College Street, got the most terrifically sour lemonade you can imagine, took the typical tourist picture -- a requirement of most every trip -- and met Jeff to get my tickets. He sold me some for a deal earlier in the week and we made the exchange in the shadows of Samford Hall.

Walked under Toomer's Corner and down to Foy Union where we watched the end of one unexciting game and all stood around quizzing one another for the latest on the Michigan-Appalachian State game. The Mountaineers won on a blocked field goal at the end of the game. We were all standing together at the Foy Union information desk half-watching the beginning of the Notre Dame-Georgia Tech game when we learned of the first ranked D1 team to ever lose to a D1-AA squad.

Walked over to Haley Center after a while. Visited the bookstore where some of those especially funny Kansas State students were discussing whether they should buy a few books and learn more about Auburn. Maybe they'll send us a few publications on Manhattan, Kansas when they get back home this weekend.

We walked up and around the construction of the new student center, taking in the new murals on the side of the stadium, where they've now erased Terry Bowden from the collective memory, despite his owning the highest winning percentage in the modern era. Not that I liked the guy that much, but you're ignoring a significant sliver of history there.

The new art over the big donor's entrance is beautiful though, capturing everything the place and the people are and aspire to be.

It would make you get philosophical, but just then Taylor called and we met in the middle of Tiger Walk so I could get some more tickets. Jeff had sold me all of the home games except Alabama near one of the end zones. Taylor sold me all of the home games, including Alabama, up around the 30 yard line or so.

So now I have two sets of tickets. One to sell, and one to use. I don't plan on making any money off of these -- I couldn't be one of these ticket hawking types to an Auburn fan -- but I do want to get my money back out of them.

So, after organizing all these tickets, I did a loop around the stadium. About three-quarters of the way through I sold one pair to a nice couple so that he could impress his date. They got tickets, a good seat -- I walked up there and looked -- and I got a few of my dollars back, and a slight peace of mind. Now I have to do this every week.

At the beginning of Tiger Walk we met one of the younger Tiger fans and a nice family from Kansas State who's son is stationed at the Air Force Base in Montgomery. They said it was their first ever road game. I always try to seek out a few groups of visitors, particularly from teams that don't routinely visit Auburn, and try to make sure they have found everything they needed. We have a certain reputation to keep as cordial hosts.

This gentleman found a place to park, the toughest part, and was marveling at the scene. We both agreed he wouldn't likely see anything like this on his next away game. He wanted to see his team perform well, I assured them they would, and that we'd then send them home with a loss, which he was expecting. But we were all going to have a good time getting there, and that's the important part.

That and something to drink. It had become very warm and the glands were still raging from the lemonade, so The Yankee and I walked up to Momma G's for a smooth sweet tea and the famous Momma's Love.

As small as the place is we grabbed a table easily. Wading through the line there is always something of a challenge, but part of the experience. As is the aggresively friendly guy, who's also just part of the game day experience.

Inside the stadium we made friends with people we'll spend eight of the next 13 Saturdays with, including a kid with the coolest fan ever.

About that time it started to rain. And then the wind started to blow. Out come the ponchos. The rain lasted through the pre-game, grounding Nova's first flight of the season, but that didn't hamper the crowd at the start of the game. Finally, the season was upon us.

And so was the Kansas State offense. They throw a lot of underneath stuff, but their running game was going nowhere. They marched down the field, got inside the 10 and kicked a field goal. I figured we'd now seen pretty much everything they had and wasn't especially worried about their offense after that.

The Auburn offense was ineffective early, so we'll talk about the beautiful new HD scoreboard. At $2.9 million it would make an excellent addition to your house, the roof of your house. It is some 30 feet tall and 74 feet wide and the first HD screen in the SEC and only the second in the country. Bad calls are no longer missed by anyone. Except the referees. And the guy running the replay function, who's hampered by too-long advertisements to show much of the replay. Gorgeous picture though.

Going into halftime Auburn managed to put together a narrow 6-3 lead, but to some it felt like we were actually trailing. The running game wasn't producing and the young offensive line was facing blitz after blitz.

Kansas State's quarterback was running a pesky little offense. They reminded you of water spiders, scooting along all over the place and finding space for quick plays, gaining six or seven yards on every effort. That guy's only a sophomore and he's going to be one to watch.

Brandon Cox, on the other hand, narrowly escaped a safety here. It looks like Tommy Trott got away with a hold in the end zone here. The guy sitting next to us: Come on Tommy! We took chemistry together! Nothing like the exhortations of the student body.

It was a tough day for Cox, immobile as he is, he endured five sacks. And Kansas State wouldn't go away. In fact they held a lead late, making everyone a bit anxious.

When it mattered most, though, Cox manufactured a touchdown drive late and the crowd went relieved. Almost immediately thereafter the defense provided another score to put the game away in the final seconds 23-13.

And since it is so ridiculously late -- and since morning is going to come so ridiculously early -- I'll share the post-game celebration tomorrow.

Goodnight and War Eagle!