Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

I think I...

...will go home now. Got soccer practice for Middle Girl tonight, and a whole stack of magazines to peruse while she and the rest of the kids run around getting all stinky. I might even go over to the Country Convenience store and get me some Vi-inner sausages and a cold drink.

TOMORROW, I will be hard after it getting actual paying stuff done again, and then during the middle of the day will be going with Miss Reba to go get some of the kids registered and tour their new school. Which is your warning that the free ice cream cones will be dramatically smaller tomorrow, possibly even more than the customary 27%!

Chet the E-mail Boy will be standing by, however, eager to receive various abusive and rude transmissions from the customers.

As you recall, it is...Noon-thirty.

I stand there baking in the hot sun, sweat dripping down my neck. Delivery trucks roar by as I wait for my mark. A lively joe blows past, a porkpie hat sliding off the back of his pate--not him. I'm watching a dame sashe up the bricks toward the jail, and I feel that feeling. Hairs standing up on my neck, sorta cold like when Sam the barber splashes me with witch hazel. I ease my eyes around, and there's a big jamoke standing there. Tall, six-footer. Hair that used to be brown. I says to him, "Hey mack, you oughtn't sneak up on a fish like that--you wouldn't happen to be Anderson, would you?" "Yeah, I'm Anderson. And you...?" "Yeah, it's me. Come on."

I pushed open the heavy door and we walked into the cool air of the museum. The taps on my heels echoed off the hoity-toity marble walls, "Art-shmart, eh?" I motioned toward the junk on the wall. He kept his pipe shut.

Lunch With Larry!

What a fun time! Larry Anderson, famous Kudzu Patch dweller and boon companion to William J. Roberts, had driven down to B'ham today to attend some SBA meetings over at the Sheraton. Obviously, any of you who come to town must have lunch with me, but since Larry and I have never laid eyes on each other, we were forced to devise an elaborate, 1930s film-noir role-playing game in order to identify each other. Everything went fine until he cracked my skull open with a blackjack...

I got to the museum at exactly 12:29 (1229 for you military sorts) and stood there with my very loud Mondrian-inspired tie waiting for him to show up. Unbeknownst to me, I was late. Oops. I happened to look through the doors to the lobby and saw some guy motioning with his hands--I walked in, "Are you Terry?" I am, and according to his name badge, he was Larry. Tall, distinguished-looking fellow, and both exactly- and nothing like I had pictured him.

"I'm sorry, Larry, I thought you were going to meet me up front, but you must have come through the back!" "No, actually I've been here waiting for you--I was out front earlier, but didn't see you." ::blush:: Again, oops.

We were seated at a table by the big window and both of us got the Thursday special, crab cake on a bed of mixed bitter weeds. Which was awfully pricey, but pretty good. Not the best crab cake in the world, but I wasn't there for the cholesterol and carbs, I was there to blabber with Larry.

I think we covered it all--work, bureaucracies, pointless meetings, growing up, reading, writing, rocket science, Cletus, dealing with Uncle Sugar, dangerous things to do with chemicals, stupid people, riding the Iron Butt, good employers, bad employers, blogging, newspaper reporters (actually a subset of the stupid people part of the conversation), children, barbecue, wives, baby eclectus parrots, our new book publishing venture (Boll Weevil Press--we are looking for Other People's Money™ right now, but in the mean time, we have each advanced the other five genuine dollars against future sales). You know, the stuff everyone talks about.

OH, and Road & Track magazines!! Larry brought a stack with him, and again I was embarrassed; this time because I had nothing to give him in return. So while he wasn't looking, I slipped a set of silverware and an ashtray off the table into his briefcase. It's not much, but it's all I had.

It got time to go, so we went to the cashier, where we were charged an astronomical pile of money for our lunch. We paid, turned, and started walking away, and with no small amount of pain I mentioned that I had never eaten such expensive crabmeat (especially considering all the other entrees on the menu were about half the price of what we were charged). Larry, who is my hero, thought it was a mite too much too, and bravely taking charge, went back looking for an explanation. We got to the cashier and she was already shaking her head in self-loathing, realizing she had made a mistake adding up our bill on her handheld calculator. She apologized profusely and gave us back a 25% rebate. That made it better, but that was still one expensive hunk of crustacean and undergrowth.

I thought Larry might get to come back and explore the ever-so-lovely Possumblog Work Environment, but he had other things to go do, so we had to make do with a quicky point-to-the-landmark exercise--"...that's Linn Park, that's the Courthouse, that's City Hall, that's the jail, that's Boutwell Auditorium..." Couple of more handshakes, and it was time to get back to work.

That Larry is a pretty good guy.

Hmph!--Justin Timberlake Joins Stones At Toronto Benefit, Gets Pelted With Garbage
TORONTO — In perhaps his most memorable cameo since donning a furry dolphin suit at a Flaming Lips performance, Justin Timberlake joined Mick Jagger and the rest of the Rolling Stones onstage during the veteran rock band's set at the concert for Toronto on Wednesday night. [...]

During his mini-set of "Cry Me a River," "Senorita" and "Rock Your Body," Justin gracefully dodged water bottles flung by anti-pop audience members, and winced slightly at their less than playful jeers. After quietly thanking the city of Toronto for generally being welcoming to him and his tour crew, Timberlake left the stage to make way for more crowd-pleasing acts including the Guess Who, Rush, AC/DC and headliners the Rolling Stones. [...]

Justin got his sweet revenge, though, when Jagger invited him onstage for what appeared to be an unrehearsed performance of "Miss You," in which Timberlake mimicked Jagger's signature sways and echoed his vocals. In a clearly forced but effective fusion of classic rock and bubblegum pop, Jagger even sang the words "cry me a river" for several repetitions with Timberlake. And though the audience still managed to sling a few bottles Timberlake's way, guitarist Keith Richards exhibited remarkable tenacity, as he angrily motioned to the crowd to show the pop star a little respect. [...]
Well, this is just horrible--no matter HOW much you dislike Justin Timberlake, these people throwing trash and bottle should have at least understood the danger of these items to the other performers--poor Mick's walker could have slipped and he could have fallen and broken his hip or something!

Interesting, maybe.

From yesterday's online edition of the Birmingham Business Journal:
Birmingham chef to be on TV's 'Off the Menu'

Birmingham chef Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar & Grill is joining the cast of Turner South's "Off the Menu," which profiles the South's finest chefs.

Stitt, along with a chef from Charleston, S.C., and another from Memphis, Tenn., will join original show host Troy McPhail of Commander's Palace in New Orleans, to round out the new cast. The men will "showcase their outdoor and cooking skills on (the) half-hour daily 'catch and cook' series," according to Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

"The chefs will remove their aprons and don everything from camouflage to wading boots as they literally hunt for ingredients found in the outdoors of the Southeast region," a promo from the network states. "Then it's into the kitchen with these culinary experts for a taste of what it takes to prepare dishes such as roasted quail and corn-crusted trout."

Debuting Sept. 8, the new format will air weekdays at 10:30 a.m. CST and 5:30 p.m. CST.

"The addition of these highly creditable restaurants allows us to create enough compelling episodes to offer our viewers a daily dose of this exciting and captivating series," says John Parry, Turner South's vice president of original programming in a press statement. "(The show) will continue to bring together two worlds close to every Southerner's heart - the outdoors and the kitchen." [...]
Stitt is one of the best chefs around, but I have never pegged him as the outdoorsy type. Should be fun to watch, though--as you know, I can just never seem get enough compellitude, excitement, or captivation.

If I only had cable...

Oh, that was fun.

Another sort of bureaucratic exercise of the pretty police, this time conducted by one of the guys over on the planning side--they keep dragging me in on these so they can have someone to blame if someone doesn't like the way it looks when they go to their Big Meeting--"Well, we had one of the architects on staff look at it, and he didn't say A WORD about it..." That kind of CYA diddly-poo.

My planning counterpart is...well, he...let's just say he pretends to great wisdom. And I am being as honest as I know how that I DO NOT believe it has anything to do with graduating from UA. I have met thousands of Bama grads and they are invariably smart folks--however, I suppose the occasional statistical outlier manages to get through.

I will occasionally mess with him, but I had to stop when he started taking my personal jibes personally. (Imagine that!) Probably the best one was the Monday morning a while back when he announced during our staff meeting that he was getting married.

"You're all invited--I'll be pinning an invitation to the bulletin board."

"Thanks, man--I'll be sure and pin your gift up there."

It's no fun when everyone in the room is laughing at you. Poor dim dude. He did get the last laugh, though--he went and mailed me an invitation, so I had to break down and actually buy him something. (I consoled myself that I was actually buying it for his wife and not him.)

He has an odd habit of trying to sound non-Southern, too. On occasion, he will attempt this weird vocal gymnastic thing which makes him sound both retarded and effeminate. But he thinks it makes him sound educated, I think. Hard to tell.

Anyway, today's attempt at erudition was the development of a new pronunciation for "kiosk". kee-ahsk, right? Maybe some bit of emphasis on first syllable, long e sound; second syllable unaccented, short o sound? Sorta like the way EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD SAYS IT?

Nah--we're gonna make it "kee-OASK". Long o, heavily accented, and drawn out until it plops off your lips like spit--kee-OOOOOAS-K.

::sigh:: People is something.

Dumb old gainful employment...

...once again rears its head. Paying work to get done this morning, so you might have to wait until after my sure-to-be-exciting lunch with Mr. Anderson to see anything here.


Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Mmmm...Dolphin Meat!

Shula to open steak house at Wynfrey Hotel
Like football and steak? Then, you're in luck: Legendary Miami Dolphins football coach Don Shula will open a Shula's Steak House at Wynfrey Hotel at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover.

Set to open this fall, the restaurant will be the 17th Shula's Steak House and 24th Shula's brand restaurant. The restaurant will seat about 140 people, and include a lounge and bar area.

"We are looking forward to coming to Alabama," says Don Shula, the most-winning coach in National Football League history, in a press statement. "Alabama is a state rich in football history and tradition."

Shula's Steak Houses LP boasts that its restaurants are a virtual museum of the 1972 Miami Dolphins; the only undefeated team in NFL history. Sepia-toned photos, rich wood and hand-painted football menus are all part of the ambiance, according to the chain. [...]
"Hand-painted football menus"? Yep--lookee here.

Anyway, now that he's coming to Birmingham, it should be much more convenient to get into the 48 oz. Club™. I might need to pick me up some of them steak knives, too. Maybe a nice bathrobe.

Yep, just me, sitting around in my bathrobe, knife in each hand, eating a big ol' pile of cow.

State bans commercial fishing in polluted waters
The Associated Press
7/30/2003, 1:54 p.m. CT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- State conservation officials have banned commercial fishing for the first time in polluted waters where health advisories warn against the consumption of fish.

Before last week, commercial anglers were allowed to fish waters for such commercial species as catfish, drum, buffalo and sucker — even when the state has issued advisories saying the fish are not safe to eat.

"We felt a responsibility to ensure that commercial fishermen were not taking fish from those advisory waters and selling them for public consumption," said Corky Pugh, director of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' wildlife and freshwater fisheries division.

The state implemented a new regulation last week making it illegal to fish for commercial species in water bodies with fish advisories, The Anniston Star reported for a story in Wednesday's papers. Another rule makes it illegal to sell fish from the polluted waters. [...]
All together now..."Eww."

Adventures in Headline Writing-- Spain gymnast stripped of medal at worlds

Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't that be "Spainish"?

Hey James and Laurence--that Word of Mouth deal got Snopified back on June 11--
[...] If you want to find out what this anonymous contributor actually said about you, you have to communicate with him through Word-of-Mouth's ANONYMOUS EMAIL SYSTEM which — this is where the "sucker" part kicks in — is only available to Word-of-Mouth "Power Users": One-Year Subscription $19.97, Two-Year Subscription (BEST VALUE) $29.97. However, all the "Power Users" who have written to us about their experiences with Word-of-Mouth have reported that after they paid the fees to learn what was being said about them, all they learned was that the anonymous contributors had "misplaced" whatever information they supposedly had to share.

Nobody needs to pay $20 to find out nothing.
Hey, send me twenty bucks and I'll say all kinds of stuff about you.

And what would Wednesday be without the Wednesday Newhouse News Lileks column?
[...] Expect bad news for the foreseeable future. It's sexier than success. Eventually every network will do the Six Months Later story, and you know how that will go:

First, "The Best of Shock and Awe" highlight reel while the narrator describes how the Iraqis folded like a three-legged card table. Then the postwar quagmire, as the Americans failed to convince a kneecapped nation to leap to its feet and do the Charleston in 100 days. Then some Bright Spots, followed by a stand-up report from whichever anchorperson parachuted in for the closing visuals. "Tonight, Baghdad is calm, but many people look to the future, and wonder whether this is liberation -- or occupation." Mournful music, slow-mo shots of an Iraqi child's blank face, a scowling soldier, a toppled statue of Saddam.

If you're not depressed by the end, Dan Rather will personally come to your house and force-feed you Valium and alcohol. [...]
Oh no. I better vacuum.

I sure hope he brings the good stuff this time. The last time, all he had was a bottle of Vitalis and three Sominex. In fairness, that was better than Peter Jennings, who just sat there on the couch crying. Man, how I hated that.

Powell: Saddam Is 'Piece of Trash' to Be Collected

Sitting in the shadows of an dark, sweltering safe house on the outskirts of Baghdad, Saddam quietly dips his hand in a bowl of water and pats his head while whispering--"You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks to collect a bill."

Wonder how long it will be before the outrage and breast-beating will start from those who think it's mean-spirited to call this psychopath a piece of trash?


Or; What do you get when you cross a possum with kudzu?

Obviously, lunch.

Yes, the day is at hand when I get to meet another blogger face-to-face for a round of lunch. Larry and I will be dining on the morrow at the oh-so-precious cafe at the Birmingham Museum of Art (over 21,000 works of art, spanning 7,000 years...and vittles, too!!).

Larry has been instructed to be sure he wears a shirt and shoes, even though I don't think this is a hard and fast rule at the museum. I will be respendent in my normal cotton long-sleeved dress shirt, which will be tucked into uncuffed, unpleated, stylish, polyester Haggar slacks. My ID badge will be tucked neatly into my breast pocket alongside my pens, and I will be screaming into a bullhorn about the gold standard and the Masons.

In other lunchitudinal matters, the ongoing stalking of Miss Preede continues apace, and we have each now managed to require rescheduling at least twelve times each. We have set another date (which will remain secret until it has happened)--I will not be denied my promised FOX6 coffee cup. I may have to ask for an autographed picture, too.

As well as one from Larry.

Right now, it is time for today's fare--l'poulet noirci pour la micro-onde.

...Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

On July 30, 1918 during the battle of Ourcq, Sergeant Joyce Kilmer was killed. In addition to his most famous poem, Trees, he also wrote the Rouge Bouquet:

In a wood they call Rouge Bouquet
There is a new-made grave today,
Built by never a spade nor pick
Yet covered with earth 10 meters thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the Summertime.
For Death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugles sing:
"Go to sleep!
Go to sleep!
Slumber well where the shell screamed and fell.
Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them any more.
Danger's past;
Now at last,
Go to sleep!"

There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new-come band.
St. Michael's sword darts through the air
and touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons:
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael's blood runs.
And up to Heaven's doorway floats,
From the wood called Rouge Bouquet,
A delicate cloud of bugle notes
That softly say:
Comrades true, born anew, peace to you!
Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
Brave and dear,
Shield us here.

The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in North Carolina is dedicated to him.

Looking out the window…

I can see that it is well past time for yet another rendering from that classic of late Nineteenth- and early Twentieth Century literature, Everybody’s Writing-Desk Book.

Today, Lemon and Nisbet are discussing aspects of the:

Proverbs and Epigrams.—Proverbs are average readings of every-day life winnowed of all the husks of expression. Each is the kernel of the popular sense. “It never rains but it pours.” “Troubles never come single.” “Money breeds money.” “When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out the window.” “Nothing succeeds like success.” “It never smokes but there is fire.” The epigram, or winged saying, must, equally, pack much wit into small bulk. The pungency of the epigram is the double taste of some prominent word in it—the apparent or conventional sense and the contradiction thereof: “Life would be intolerable but for its pleasures.” “The child of the father is the man.” “The more haste the less speed.” “Every man wishes to live long, but no one to be old.” “Language is the art of concealing thought” “ ‘Tis all your business, business how to shun.” “Nature is commanded by obeying her.”

Akin to the epigram is the winged saying whereby two things apparently incongruous being brought into conjunction, each becomes affected in meaning by its yoke-fellow: “Smelling of musk and of insolence”; “Some killed partridges, others time only”; “He died full of honors and of an aspic of plovers’s eggs”. […]

Ellipsis.—An Ellipsis is often more expressive than any express statement. “The jest is clearly to be seen not in the words, but in the gap between.” “They have two faults, they do generally lie and steal: barring these—!” “In Sumatra are large fire-flies, which people stick upon spits to illuminate the ways. Persons of condition thereby travel with a pleasant radiance they much admire. Great honor to the fire-flies. But—!”

Suggestiveness.—Akin to ellipsis is suggestiveness—the art of only suggesting particulars which the reader can supply for himself. When, after long years of hardships and adventures in foreign lands, a man (of the olden times) is described returning middle-aged and bronzed to the village whence he set out a beardless youth, and meeting a boy gathers how the boy is the son of the lass of his young and cherished love, what writer, by exhausting all the details implied in that chance piece of news, would spare the reader the effort of counting its value?
Well, yeah.

Air marshals pulled from key flights
WASHINGTON, July 29 — Despite renewed warnings about possible airline hijackings, the Transportation Security Administration has alerted federal air marshals that as of Friday they will no longer be covering cross-country or international flights, MSNBC.com has learned. The decision to drop coverage on flights that many experts consider to be at the highest risk of attack apparently stems from a policy decision to rework schedules so that air marshals don’t have to incur the expense of staying overnight in hotels. [...]

[...] The move to pull air marshals from any flight requiring them to stay overnight is particularly disturbing to some because it coincides with a new high-level hijacking threat issued by the Department of Homeland Security. That warning memo says that “at least one of these attacks could be executed by the end of the summer,” according to a source familiar with the document. [...]
You know, nothing surprises me anymore.

Although it would have been nice to have an air marshal on every flight when this all got started, at least there was some peace of mind knowing that even though they might not be on every flight, there were enough to be a credible deterrent--sorta like to the sign you occasionally see--"These premises guarded by Smith & Wesson four days a week. You just have to guess which ones."

Well, I don't suppose anyone intent on doing harm will have to guess now.

What's really going to chap me is if this is some bureaucratic nonsense to create a false budget crisis, similar to the one when the FBI created an artificial backlog of document interpretation to plump for more money.

Are you the lucky girl he'll share them with?

"YOU can be if...

...Looking at a big beautiful old oak tree and realizing that it took years of growing"

It's full-bore Lileks insanity!

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

We need to have a talk...

...with whoever it was that came up with the word “funeral”, because despite taking up almost half the word, “fun” really isn't part of it.

A long-time friend of our family—we knew him from church, and from school. One of his boys was a grade ahead of me, another a grade behind me, and the third was about three back. We all played football together, and his wife had been a kindergarten teacher and librarian at our school, and had been one of my Cub Scout den mothers (and she shares my birthday).

A man of incredible handiness and quiet optimism, he and the boys built their own garage and shop in their backyard using rough lumber, a few hand tools, and a good eye. Always full of good humor, and even at threescore and ten, he had a handshake like a vise.

In the last couple of months, he was diagnosed with cancer, which spread rapidly despite several drastic surgeries. The family thought that a corner had been turned last week, though, and he got to move from the SICU to a private room. And then he was gone.

I dropped by my mom’s office and picked her up. NO way I was letting her drive again. Although she did want to go by the Farmer’s Market on the way back.


Reba decided to take the day off and had gone with the kids to get her mom. My father-in-law, bless his workaholic self, had gone into work (in Tuscaloosa) and then driven BACK up for the funeral, and was going to go right back to work afterwards. Half a day on the road, that.

We all sat in the back of the funeral home chapel, which is good for getting to see everybody. Which we did—folks we knew that had been former customers, folks from school, folks from church. A moment or two of quiet, then a couple of short eulogies by the current preacher and the man he replaced, and then it was time to go. A few more hugs and handshakes and bits of hurried gossip in the lobby. It was good to see folks I hadn’t seen in forever. But it wasn’t fun.

And then again, sometimes it DOESN’T pay to be off-handedly impertinent…

I had no sooner gotten sat down from my return from the funeral when Chet the E-Mail Boy came rushing (charitably speaking) through the doorway with the following missive:
Subject: Christine Terhune Herrick

Hey! I must take exception on your treatment of Christine Terhune Herrick! Chrissie Herrick was not what you describe. First of all, that was her real name, not something made up to sound "high society." She was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister (The Rev. Dr. Edward Payson Terhune) and wife of a reporter on the Brooklyn Eagle (Fred Herrick). She lived in Brooklyn, for heaven's sake. She, along with her parents, her sister Virginia and brother Albert Payson Terhune, were all writers. Although her books on domestic economy seem dated and quaint now, they were very popular because they were written from experience for middle-class women who did not have unlimited resources.

Her great-great grandniece, also named Christine Terhune Herrick, is an attorney in Washington State. She'd probably have a good laugh over your remarks, but I'm not forwarding your site to her, just in case!

Kathleen Rais (MacMurray)
Huh? What!? I confessed to Chet no small amount of consternation, given that I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what this was all about.

(To myself I kept my fears that possibly once again I had been latched onto by a raving moonbat who had mistaken me for someone else—it has happened before, although at least this time there was a bit more to go on to deduce the reasoning behind this Herrickean fury.)

To the magic Google machine I flew, where I tapped in good Mrs. Herrick’s name and the name of this blog, and LO AND/OR BEHOLD, there it was—back on Wednesday, January 3 of this year, I was waxing rhapsodic about my then-new Christmas gift of Everybody’s Writing-Desk Book, an interesting feature of which was a listing of books in the back by authors of the time—including one Christine Terhune Herrick! One of her titles from the list (What To Eat -- How To Serve It) I had managed to find on Barnes and Noble’s Out of Print Book site, and I then had this to say about her:
Apparently a well-known cookbook [author] and general household scold of the late 19th- and early 20th centuries, with a name that desperately belongs to a high society dinner party hostess in a Three Stooges movie. Looking at her copious list of titles on B&N, it's hard to believe that they are missing some of her other fine works published by Harper's, which are listed as House-Keeping Made Easy and Cradle and Nursery. Bet those are some corkers, alright.

Well, now.



I suppose my waywardness with the vowels and consonants could have caused some pain to devotees of Mrs. Herrick, so I cobbled together a response to Mrs. MacMurray and pled insanity, begging forgiveness for being a brash upstart and sporting about with the Terhune legacy, and asked if posting her defense of Mrs. Herrick would be acceptable.

Thankfully, Mrs. MacMurray had been in the teasing mode, and she quickly wrote back that she knew my gentle prodding was done with tongue firmly encheeked. It seems that Kathleen has written several scholarly articles and a book about the Terhune family, and is quite up on many obscure facets of Terhunania. In addition, for many years she dealt in rare books, specializing in the Terhune family.

Breathing a great sigh of relief (along with the Possumblog Legal Department), I told Kathleen I would be happy to direct my readers to her website. She demurred (having not yet taken the plunge into the icy waters of Oceanus Interneticus) but did not object in the least if I directed you all to her book, Albert Payson Terhune : A Bibliography of Primary Works, which is listed on Amazon. Although the book is about brother Albert, it also contains Christine’s bibliography and a photograph of her.

So, there now! Go, read! Or I shall scold you once more!

I make myself a liar--no posting this morning EXCEPT to note that long-time Axis of Weevil member and Gawker contributor Elizabeth Spiers has taken the plunge with her very own domain name and pretty, pretty Moveable Type software. Go tell her hey at http://www.elizabethspiers.com/, and as always, please adjust your permalinks.

I have a funeral to attend today, so no posting this morning.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Dowdiness From Where It's Already Tomorrow Today, or something...

Aussie Tim Cobber Mate gets an e-mail from an alert Yellowhammer, H.J. Farmer, in reference to Mike Marshall of the Mobile Register and his ongoing search for clarification from the New York Times on the actions by a certain
[...] standup comic specializing in insults -- Don Rickles with an exceptionally high language quotient [...]
who gave rise to the newest fun verb in all of Bloglandia--"dowdify".

The big question in my mind is when is Tim going to come visit Alabama?

Wow--everybody it seems is sprucing up--John Hawkins just got some spiffy new clothes.

I feel so...plain.

Listening to the radio, huh?

Must be the trip to Wal-Mart.

What do you get for the twenty year old who has everything?

Obviously, a Harry Potter birthday cake. And maybe some Legos.

Happy birthday, ya' little punk ya'!

So Anyway,

Got home Friday and found out that I had made a dreadful error in cognition. It seems that when my wife’s mother had asked that the children spend this week with her and Gramps, it was only intended to be during the daylight hours. No night-spending. And it would begin today, not Friday night. Good thing I like my kids, that’s all I’ve got to say. So, Reba’s desire to clean house, and my desire to, uh…clean house will require some adjustments. ::sigh::

Whatever—so I got home and Miss Reba and I decided to take the kinder to see a movie. You know, everyone has their own benchmark bad movie—for some of you, maybe it’s Battlefield Earth, others of you, Ishtar, some find Santa Claus Conquers the Martians to be unwatchable. My own yardstick of craptacularity is a little fill-um called Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows. A rockin’ little sequel, which for me encapsulates every reason why the late-1960s should be wiped from the history books. It is stupid, annoying, and if I may say so, stupid. And annoying.

Little did I know that people were still able to make such steaming piles of horse manure, until I plunked down close to forty bucks to go see Spy Kids 3D -- Game Over.

Move Review Time—(I would say “spoilers ahead” but this scream-inducing pool of dreck is already far beyond spoiled. I’m going to give everything away, so scroll way down if you really want to go throw you money away on this stinker and don’t want to know how it ends.)

What a bad movie. I came away with actual, visceral, throbbing HATRED for it and for the persons who caused my time to be wasted sitting through this mindless, idiotic drivel. How many ways is it bad?

Well, first off there’s 3D. 3D is what you do when there are no more ideas left. 3D is a crutch for moviemakers who somehow think the audience will forgive you if you make a point of poking your finger at them-WHOA 3-DDDDD!-or throwing things out into the audience-WHOA 3-DDDDDD!-or any of a number of other things that do absolutely nothing except give everyone a headache. And oh, what a headache. The print we had wasn’t quite registered exactly right, so even with the tiny, stupid glasses, everything had fuzzy edges, and even today my eyes hurt. According to Miramax co-chair Bob Weinstein,
"When you get the franchise right and (audiences) have such an enjoyable experience, you build a brand name," Weinstein told Reuters. "The 3-D was something fresh. Parents hadn't seen that in a long time and wanted to turn their kids on to it."
For the love of all that’s holy, why not facilitate parents in turning their kids on to something else they haven’t seen in a while, something that’s better for them—like mescaline.

Aside from the nausea-inducing stereopticon sensation, there was the nausea-inducing story. The Spy Kids franchise has continued to get worse with every movie, and surely this one will be the death of the series. It mostly revolves around Juni, who has the vapid, cloying, highly annoying screen presence of a young Danny Bonaduce. He has left the spy business to scrounge pennies from stupid kids who hire him as a private detective. He has lost all contact with his family, who desperately need him to rescue his sister, whose mind has become trapped inside of a new computer game designed by Rambo. The idea of the game is to trap unwitting children on the Fifth Level. Why? Because this is a moist, curly dog turd of a movie, that’s why.

Anyway, after a call from the President (played by Dr. Doug Ross), Juni goes to the spy place and Salma Hayak convinces Juni to hook himself up to the game to save Carmen, and she convinces him without taking off her clothes. There is a brief bit of what is supposed to pass for double-entendre banter between Hayak and her on-screen husband, which zooms over kid’s heads (which is good, I suppose), and falls like a lead block on the adults (which made me want to punch the screen, which is probably not a good thing, I suppose).

Juni gets into the machine and everyone in the audience puts on their glasses to start the headache-fest. He meets other kids inside who are “Beta Testers” (ooooohhh) who are actually nerds when you get to see them later in the film. They go through various levels of the game (you know, like in Tron, except hard on the eyes). Lots of stupid game play, none of which are anything as good as what kids actually play on video games now. Juni and the Beta Testers (ooohhhh) run into a girl, whom Juni falls in like with, whom he has to clobber a couple of times, but who then takes his place when he has to fight with one of the other guys or get kicked out of the game. The girl is not real, though, she’s just a decoy being played by Rocky to get Juni to the Fifth Level, but Juni doesn’t figure this out until the end of the movie.

Anyway, Juni manages to also get Khan Noonien Singh to come into the game to help him, because a) he needs help, and b) Mr. Roarke wants to confront Judge Dredd because it was HE who paralyzed him and put him in a wheelchair and made him do commercials. So, they all wander around and fling stuff into the audience and poke things out there for us to be amazed by, and finally they find Carmen, who leads them to the Fifth Level and they shut down the game, thus foiling the nefarious schemes of Nick Martinelli.

BUT, it’s not over, because Rambo Returns and somehow manages to build a big robot and starts rampaging through the city, and then since they had only a tiny bit of money left over, all the characters from previous adventures got to show up long enough to stand there and put on 3D glasses while the words “PUT ON GLASSES” flashed in front of them. Ten minutes later, the movie is over and Antonio Banderas is laughing his happy hindquarters to the bank, and I am fuming because Carla Gugino is on screen for about a minute.

The robot Rocky is defeated when Zachary Powers confronts him in the control room and forgives him for being mean. Everyone hugs and the credits roll, and in the outtakes that must now accompany all motion pictures to make the audience laugh (since they didn’t get to during the feature), George Clooney mugged while chewing up his line and after the cut, grinned and quipped that he had probably just managed to wreck his entire career. Yep. Probably so.

Game Over.

Back home, off to bed after a handful of Advil, then up early Saturday.

Off to the sporting goods place to get the youngest two registered for fall soccer and to unload perfectly good cash money for registration. Thankfully, no new uniforms this time, so that saved a little bit. Then back to the house to take stuff to the charity folks—Reba had a backlog of stuff in boxes, which she had put in the back of the truck while I was gone. SO, Franklin got a bit of a workout, and as a reward for his hard work, I stopped and got him some glue to put back on his rearview mirror.

Once they get in the habit of coming off, they keep it up. It just occurred to me that since my readership has risen into the high ones, that some of you may not be familiar with one of the other members of the family. Franklin is my truck. He was named by the kids in honor Franklin the Turtle, because he is green and slow. The name also works well because he’s an F-100, and Benjamin Franklin’s picture is on a $100 bill. So there you go. (Oh, and he has 257,000 miles on him. Which might explain the slow part.)

Anyway, got my glue and got home, to be confronted with several children and a wife who had gotten themselves cleaned up to go to the store. Hmm. “You know Catherine has been wanting to get her ears pierced and I had told her last week she could if she didn’t pee in her pants.” Some inducement, eh? Oh well.

Got us all in the van and away we went to Wally World, where we wandered around for several hours gathering up a treasure trove of valuable prizes, none of which I can really recall at the moment.

The important part of the trip went just fine, though. Catherine sat there all prim and ladylike (a first) after first picking out a pretty little set of earrings with rhinestones. Two pops later and she was even more of a prissy little girl. Not a fidget or a whimper, although she did confess to Mommy that “that ear poker thing hurted some.” We had some lunch at McDonald’s solely to satisfy the kids’ craving for cheap plastic Happy Meals toys and cheap plastic food. The big attraction was that the toys were tie-ins to the garbage we had seen the previous night. ONE MORE STRIKE! The movie and the Happy Meals seemed to have been conceived on two parallel-dimension Planets of the Stupid. The Happy Meal toys had Juni looking like a lobotomized Prince Valiant riding a unicycle. There was also a comic book (in 3D!) that had absolutely no relationship to the movie—different story, different-looking characters (yet, surprisingly, no better than the movie crap—go figure!). To say the kids were disappointed is an understatement.

Finished that mess up and went BACK to the store, this time to the nearly deserted Big K-Mart to look for other junk we could have done without, then back to Wal-Mart AGAIN for the stuff we forgot that we couldn’t find at K-Mart, and then finally back home. Got the kids scrubbed and shampooed and into bed, and then it was time for Reba to visit The Possumblog Style Center.

She had tried to get an appointment to have her hair colored early that morning, but was met with the studied indifference that can only come from a teenager who thinks being a receptionist in a salon is like, the coolest thing. So, she got some goo for me to play with on her hair. Yes, yes—I’ve done this plenty enough, so I know what I’m doing. Most of the time.

This time was a bit different in that the goo she bought had a neat little comb applicator, making it less likely I would leave her with big streaks of uncolored hair. Not that that has ever happened… It worked really well and it looked good enough so that no one at church Sunday asked if she had gotten her hair colored. And saved about 70 bucks. Which is about what we had wasted on stuff at the Wal- and K-Marts.

Sunday, churching up for everyone, and then some. Reba’s mom called at 6:30 wanting to know if we could come eat lunch with them at their church (which is the one where Reba and I grew up). They were having a special Sunday with a guest speaker, who just happened, a couple of years ago, to be the preacher where Reba and I go now. (Confused yet?) We got ready, went to our services, drove across the county to our old home, ate lunch, caught up on the gossip, was berated for not visiting more often, listened to the next sermon at 1, went home, collapsed, went back for our evening service, then went to the GROCERY STORE afterwards, then went home and ate a VERY late supper, then hit the bed like a sack of wet cement, then up bright-eyed this morning so I could come in here!

I wonder why I feel so tired.

You know what this old world needs? More stories about Yorkshire Terriers!!

But who could we trust to give us such needful words?! I say no one but Francesca Watson, who has been incommunibloggo over on Yorkie Blog for much too long!

SO, go over there and send her an e-mail and bug her until she answers!

Phenix City's Nattering Nabob of Negativity...

Chuck Myguts of Redneckin' fame has up and moved to new digs at http://idlehourwebs.com/redneckin/nucleus2.0/. All of you please reset the buttons on your radios.


Against all odds, I have once again managed to make it through another weekend.

Lots of junk to cover, and as always, I have our wonderful staff meeting to go doze through before getting on with the somewhat enjoyable tales of Lady Mondegreen, The Most Hated Movie Experience EVER, Franklin Gets a Mirror, Wal-Martians, More Head Holes, Salon d'Rat du Bois, Visitin', and Other Junk.

In the mean time, reader Garland Stewart sent me a link to a story in yesterday's Birmingham News--I had already read it myself in the paper before getting Garland's e-mail, and I agree with him that although the circumstances of the story are terribly sad, the writing by Carol Robinson is first rate. It's about 5,000 words long--a long read, and a hard one given the subject matter, but worth it.

Friday, July 25, 2003

I can’t think of another thing.

Except for the odd circumstance that Miss Reba’s mom and dad wanted to have the kids stay over at their house. Starting tonight. And continuing for the rest of the week. ::blink::blink:: Mom-in-law called at 6:30 this morning and asked for them. “Are you sure?” (Not so much looking a gift horse in the mouth as trying my best to caveat that emptor as much as possible. And yes, I know that's not proper Latin--why be bothered by that when I refuse to use proper English?) “Oh, yes, send them on!” Well, now…

Whenever the kids are gone, Reba always wants us to clean their dumpy rooms, take unused toys off the Island of Unused Toys (where you get can get a deduction on your income taxes), work out in the yard recreating the Gardens of Versailles (which means me going down to the garden shop in the truck and hauling rocks and being stove up for the rest of the week), and 5,325 other items on the ever-lengthening ‘List of Things for Terry To Do’.

On the other hand, the ‘List of Things Terry Actually Wants To Do’ is but one single item. I am a simple man with simple appetites.

Must be the weather.

SO ANYWAY, my normal weekend task of ruining perfectly good small minds will be spent elsewise. Be interesting to see what happens—I’ll tell you all about it Monday, if I remember any of it. Or, I might just make up a bunch of stuff. See you then!

Space Shuttle Columbia Debris Recovery Enhanced With GIS

Just got my paper copy of ArcNews today, and it had a very interesting cover article dealing with computerized mapping the debris field of the shuttle Columbia to aid in recovery.

In case you've never read ArcNews, it's put out by ESRI, who produce mapping software. Each issue of the magazine is jam-packed with articles about different uses for GIS software, ranging from "Finding Homes for America's Wild Horses and Burros With GIS" to "Locating Traffic Jams, Plant Specimens, and More".

Interesting stuff.

I am not a baseball fan...

...because as you all know, it's not football. But, THIS is pretty darned cool, not matter what! Check out ol' Carlton, a-standing there like he owns the place! Or Woodie, flinging the pill like nobody's business! And that suave devil Greminger!

Neat stuff.

He might object to it...

But that's just tough noogies. Reader Jim Smith (not an alias, by the way) and I were just writing back and forth and he mentioned that in addition to living that free'n'easy swinging academic lifestyle, he also is the board chair for a non-profit, and he is having to take a few hours off to go pound the pavement for fund-raising.

As is my terribly sneaky way, I managed to get him to tell me that the organization is the Family Support Network of Eastern North Carolina which operates in Beaufort, Bertie, Greene, Hyde, Martin, and Pitt counties. (The link is to the parent organization) According to Jim, FSN-ENC
"provides referral, emotional and educational support to families with special needs children or who have experienced the death of a child. We have a small group of professionals who work with the families and also what are called support parents. These support parents have been through similar situations with their families. They seem to make a tremendous difference."
Sounds like a wonderful group of folks--I know Jim would appreciate any assistance you can offer, especially you folks up in Tarheelandia.

Paradise by the Pinchgut

Wow. Yesterday afternoon was about as close to midsummer perfection as you could ever get around here—went to the soccer park to wait for Reba to bring Rebecca and puttered around a bit just soaking it all in. Low humidity, mild temperature, slight breeze, big puffy Maxfield Parrish clouds, brilliant blue sky, grass and trees as lush as Olde Sodde. The sound of the train coming through, quick blips of coach’s whistles, the thunmpk-ing of soccer balls, the p-TINK! of kids connecting with horsehide over at the baseball park. Oh, and the birds—tons of birds—four or five different pairs of sparrows were up there, just chirping away and flittering around and occasionally lighting long enough on handy fences and low-hanging tree limbs to engage in raucous, vigorous, and embarrassingly public copulation.

Must be the weather.

Anyway, Reba finally wheeled in and Bec hopped out, and I got to sit there on the bench reading my nice, somewhat new Car and Driver. Got home early due to an early end of practice, got Cat to come fill up the bird feeders with me and just stood there looking at the sky and trees. It sure was pretty.

“What you lookin’ for, Daddy?”


“Daaaad! Santa’s at th’North Pole!”


“Daddeeee!! Rabbits don’t fly!”

“The house? It needs paint, you know.”

“Hm. Yeah, th’ house need-es some paint. I’m goin’ inside now so I can finish my game.”

“Okeedoke. It’s real pretty out here, isn’t it, Cat.”

“Yes sir, it’s priddy, but I’m gettin’ eat up by m’skeeters.”

“Yeah. I think I’ll come in with you.”

Yesterday afternoon was a good one.

This was interesting--Fuel truck overturns, spreads fire--8,800 gallons flow into storm drains near western cemetery

Seems a full gasoline tanker turned over, spilt its load, caught on fire, and started pouring flaming gasoline down the local storm sewers over by Elmwood Cemetery here in Birmingham. Which caused quite a stir, to say the least. My favorite local teevee reporter was there, and the video was pretty darned dramatic, with shots of manholes being blown off and thick black plumes of smoke rising up out of the cemetery (!), due to the flow of motor fuel through the sewer pipes that run underneath it.

Thankfully no one was seriously injured, and despite the dramatic 'splosions and stuff, it turned out that property damage was not that great.

And you know what, it took me to today to realize that when it happened, I didn't have that tense, cold knot in my stomach.

My first thought wasn't that some jacked-up jihadi had stolen a gasoline truck and tried to take out a few infidels on the way to the Eternal Hourihouse.

I just figured it was caused by one of the normal assortment of low-wattage folks who manage to get driver's licenses around here.

Frankly, I'll take the dimbulbs over the nutjobs any day of the week.

From the "It's a Small World" File--Lileks Discusses Pryor Convictions:
[...] Hugh Hewitt's show today concerned an interesting judicial controversy - some Dems are suggesting that a certain nominee [current Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor--Ed.] is unfit for confirmation because he is a staunch Catholic, and hence opposed to abortion, and hence cannot be trusted to rule in a fashion consistent with Roe V. Wade. We have not gotten into the abortion issue here, and we won’t now, or ever. I bring up the issue because there’s something revealing about the implications of the criticism.

If a judicial candidate says “I’m personally opposed to (social issue X), but it is legal, and any rulings I make on the matter will be informed by the law, not my own beliefs,” ought that not be sufficient? I want my judges to uphold the law, not contort it to fit their views. I don’t want them teasing penumbras from the emanations of the glow of the spark of the reflection of the echo of the intent of the Framers - I want them to deal specifically with the specific words of the law, as they specifically apply. So if someone accuses a judge of being unable to uphold the law because they hold a personal belief that conflicts with the law - even though that belief has nothing to do with the specifics of the case - then the accuser might be giving us a window into their own souls. The accuser might be suggesting that they would overturn a law to fit their personal morality, regardless of the fitness of the statute. Isn’t that how people behave, after all?

It’s called “projection,” I think. [...]
Tsk, tsk. When will people like Mr. Lileks figure out that the only way a staunch Catholic is acceptable in politics is when he's that dreamy guy President Josiah Bartlet.

Anyway, this is one of those things where there's a lot of heat and no light--in the end, there are plenty of sitting justices who blatantly ignore plainly written statutory language in favor of ruling based upon their own biases and philosophies--one need look no further than the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Straying from interpretation to invention is not good for anyone, no matter which side is doing it, but Pryor really doesn't seem to be the venom-dripping troglodyte that he's being made into by his critics.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Showing the Flag

This was in the Birmingham Post-Herald yesterday--Alabama's flag flies over Baghdad airport
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has ordered U.S. troops in Iraq not to fly American flags so the Iraqi people will not feel humiliated by any symbols of a foreign military occupation of their homeland.

But nobody said anything against Alabama's state flag.

"So they are flying the Alabama flag over the Baghdad International Airport. I must have maybe eight or 10 pictures that people have sent me of it," said Maj. Gen. Mark Bowen, adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard.

The state flag — a simple red "X" on a white background — has flown for several weeks at the airport. Security in and around the Baghdad facility has been provided by members of the 140-man 214th Military Police Company based in the small Calhoun County town of Alexandria.
Not to be too pedantic about it, and knowing that further explanation would further traumatize poor, sensitive types--it's not a "simple red "X"", but rather a crimson saltire, or Cross of St. Andrew. As you can tell, since it has historical religious overtones, The Easily Offended would probably have a fit about it.

And the 214th is based in Alexander City (Tallapoosa County) and Tuskegee (Macon County), not Alexandria.
Several members of Alabama Guard units are known to be carrying state flags.

"I must have given out at least 12 or 15 flags. This is something that started during (Operation) Desert Storm when our guys would fly state flags around the battlefield," Bowen said.

"Soon, folks got to recognizing the Alabama flag. And so, whenever a unit needed beans or bullets, they knew they could come in and we'd take care of them. And whenever they had mechanical problems with their vehicles and they needed something fixed, they would see the flag, come over and those Alabama boys would fix 'em up," he said.
But of course!

As a practical matter, the Alabama flag is a good choice for a unit marking--graphically, it's simple and distinct, with strong contrast between the colors--the Florida flag is similar, and both the Texas and Tennessee flags are distinct enough to both be easily seen and identified. (It would probably be inflamatory to fly this one, but it's good to keep around just in case.)
Flag raisings have become something of a sore point during the second Persian Gulf War. U.S. Marines were quickly ordered to haul down the American flag on March 21 after coalition troops captured the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, a public-relations gesture the Pentagon thought necessary to demonstrate that America wants to liberate Iraq, not conquer it. But the policy guaranteed there would be no Iwo-Jima type moments for American forces.

"I feel sad for our troops," said ex-Marine George Gentile, 81, president of the Iwo Jima Survivors Association. "Our troops have worked so hard to gain the ground that they deserve a little something for the effort. It gives a morale boost to raise the flag, I know. But this is a different kind of war, I guess."

Gentile was in his first battle when he witnessed the raising of Old Glory on Mount Suribachi after days of bloody fighting to take the tiny Pacific island in the final months of World War II. The raising, which was photographed and later commemorated in a national monument near Washington, became one of the most famous images in U.S. history. [...]
Again, I know I'm being a pill, but I don't think there's a Marine alive who would want to be called an "ex-Marine". He is a classy man, though, and not willing to foam and fume for a reporter about the men having to take down their flag. It is a different war.

Another thing, now that I'm all riled up, wouldn't it be nice if online editions of newspapers would give you a link to interesting places like the Iwo Jima Survivors Association?

Anyway, wrapping up is this paragraph:
But the Alabama flag has a simple design that is not well known outside the state. It's unlikely anyone in Iraq would recognize it as part of the United States, experts said.
Hey, we even have trouble here getting people to recognize us as part of the United States.


Got over to Oak Hill Bar and Grill in Homewood early, thank goodness, so I could cover my tracks from Tuesday—“Will there be one, orrrr…” “Nope! Give me two menus again today and let’s see what happens!”


Gotta love that combination of ennui and apathy that is the mark of a fine eating establishment, especially when applied to a place that ain’t.

Anyway, as I said, I wanted to be able to wipe away my tracks so that there wouldn’t be one of those awkward, Costanza-esque ‘Clash of the Worlds’ scenarios that killed Independent George, where I’m having to explain exactly how it is that I know a certain local teevee girl, and how I have this website that I do…but it’s not usually pronygraphic [sic] or nothin’…and that I occasionally refer to him as My Friend Jeff™ and say mean stuff about him. But, since I was there a few minutes early, I got it all taken care of.

He showed up a minute or two later, wandering around outside looking for the usually-late me, so I hopped up and shouted “Hey, Moron!” out the door at him—“You’re the moron—you’re usually LATE!”

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

We were e-mailing junk back and forth the other day, and he mentioned something that nearly floored me, being that he and I had known each other now for FOURTEEN years. Hard to believe. He came to work at The Bad Place about six months or so after I started, at which time I immediately struck up a relationship with him based entirely upon merciless teasing, bitter sarcasm, and car talk.

Ahhh. Y’know, it’s hard to find friends like that.

He got the chicken wrap and I got the half-pound wad of cow on a bun and we discussed the usual variety of topics: job search (he’s still looking), car shopping (with their third on the way, they’re shopping for a minivan so they’ll be JUST LIKE US—BWAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!), my Oldest (delusions of persecution so strong they make your everyday Arab seem like Pollyanna), his Oldest (pooping on a schedule now, though only through the judicious use of a time clock and whistle mechanism and chemically-doctored juice every other morning), stupid people, things I don’t quite like about our van (no auto door lock, the hatch unlocks with all the other doors, the transmission downshifts right when you’ve set up a nice four-wheel drift through a curve), mortgages, siblings, our burnt-out hippy Mutual Friend Mike, and then it was time for the reason for the whole get-together, the heartwarming ritual swapping of magazines—he got six AutoWeeks, one Automobile, one Hot Rod, one Popular Hot Rodding, one High Performance Pontiacs, one Mustangs and High Performance Fords, and the July issue of Hemmings.

I got a Car and Driver.

AND, stuff to blog about, so I call it even.

Wow. Fourteen years. Still hard to believe.


Funny, but the normal gaggle of pervgooglers I get here ask the exact opposite of the question-- does ann curry of today show cross her legs .

I'm not sure, but when I have lunch with her, I'll ask.

And an encouraging sign that members of Pacific Island cargo cults are becoming much more advanced-- FRUM EVENING GOWNS.

New Digs for the Bureau

GSA inks contract to build FBI office
Efforts to revitalize downtown Birmingham got a boost Wednesday when a federal agency said it had signed a $34.4 million contract for construction of a new FBI headquarters near the convention complex.

The 86,000-square-foot building will be constructed on land owned by the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex and will allow the FBI to move out of cramped quarters in the 2121 Building.

"We think this is a great shot in the arm for the city center and the new urban office park being pursued west of the BJCC," said Michael Calvert, head of Operation of New Birmingham, an agency advancing downtown redevelopment.

The General Services Administration said Wednesday the new FBI headquarters should open in April 2005. The building will house nearly 200 employees and accommodate a radio maintenance facility to be constructed later.

Cheaper site

The GSA, which handles real-estate site searches for federal agencies, said in April it would build the FBI building on property between 17th and 18th streets North and 10th and 11th avenues. The GSA picked the BJCC site over one near Kelly Ingram Park initially favored by the FBI.

The BJCC site was cheaper $800,000 vs. $5.5 million for the Kelly Ingram Park site and had the backing of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Mayor Bernard Kincaid and Operation New Birmingham. [...]
Well, that's pretty good. This project has been bouncing around downtown for years now--I've even done some sketches for it. The problem has always been trying to find enough open space to satisfy the requirements for a great big building and parking deck along with the wide security perimeter of open space around the building--stuff that usually makes moving out to the 'burbs attractive for high-value targets like the FBI, or the Federal Reserve Bank, which moved out to Liberty Park.

Downtowns are more interesting when the buildings are able to address the street and offer some interest to passers-by, and hopefully some effort will be made to do that on the chosen site. One thing going for it is that it's more off the normal pedestrian pathways, so if it doesn't have rows of twee shops and cafes, it won't be quite so bad as it would have been on the site closer to Kelly Ingram Park, which IS intensively used, both by everyday folks and by tourists visiting the Civil Rights District.

This is a link to a MapQuest photo of the site (Ack! Stupid MapQuest is about like Stupid Blogger--you may have to go to the zoom button and go to the highest magnification if it shows up as a photo of the entire downtown area.) Probably the most interesting nearby feature to the site is Oak Hill Cemetery (the green area at the top of the photo), which was Birmingham's first large burial place. Most of the early founding fathers and local dignitaries are buried there, along with Louise Wooster.

Miss Wooster was an interesting person--if any of you have a local library that does inter-library loans, you might be interested in her autobiography.

Witness intimidation, obstruction of justice, perjury claimed in filings
News staff writer

The federal government's investigation into massive accounting fraud at HealthSouth Corp. has expanded to include obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, money laundering and public corruption, according to court papers filed in Birmingham's federal court.

Prosecutors, in documents filed July 9 that U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson declined to seal and obatined [sic] Wednesday, said the government has uncovered evidence indicating multiple crimes by multiple suspects spanning several years and dating until at least to 1996. The documents do not identify specifics, but said the suspects include dozens of individuals and corporations.

Prosecutors said that the investigation of massive accounting fraud, which began in March, has developed and expanded.

"The activity being investigated occurred, in some instances, over many years and involved multiple transactions," the filings said. "Some of the crimes are only now coming to light, weeks after the initial allegations of accounting fraud. The accounting fraud itself involved numerous schemes both to `cook the books' and to conceal the fraud from outside accountants." [...]
Just allegations, folks, just a bunch of made-up nonsense by mean people out to get the slick-haired founder of HealthSouth--nothing to see here, just move along.

Man, How I Hate My Friend Jeff

As you know, he and I are supposed to have lunch today. I had gotten the kids to daycare and was all the way to the interstate entrance when I remembered that I had left all of the magazines I was bringing him on top of the radio in the bedroom at the house. Grr. Stupid Jeff.

I couldn't show up without magazines--even though he only brings one or two, and I bring an entire giant stack, if I left them at home he would berate me and act like a tiny whiney little girl about it, so I had to TURN AROUND and go ALL THE WAY BACK to the house to get them. Made me 10 minutes late for work.

Boy, I just can't stand him!

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

He Angles for the FOX6 Schwag...

SUCCESS!! I have now managed to break into the fast-paced world of collecting local television promotional items--Miss Nikki comes through with promises of great treasures after having so callously gone and had major oral surgery in order to not have lunch with me yesterday!!

On a serious note, Nikki's mouth really is hurting and she told me she probably will have to be on air during the 10 o'clock newscast. It's difficult enough to have to get up and talk on camera, but quite another to have to put up with excrutiating dental pain at the same time.

SO, my personal wishes to Nikki for a speedy recovery and for being a such a good sport about my teasing.

(And we have plenty of time to set up a meeting to talk about my newest teevee show project, "Possums Gone Wild".)

Speaking of Ritualized Blood Letting...

The trip to Ridge Park was the usual sort of fun.

"Have you ever..." No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,no,nononono, nonononono.

"Do you suffer from..." No, no, no, no, no, no.

"Have you ever exchanged..." NO, no, no, no, once when I was a small boy in Marseilles, no, no, no, no.

Finger stick, pulse, blood pressure, waddle onto nice cushy chair, Betadine, Betadine, Betadine, hurtful Indian Rub with latex tourneq--, turni--, terni-- rubber band, pressure, gleaming large bore (the needle, not me), squeeze ball, The Young and the Flippin' Restless on the teevee, some chick in the chair beside me who loudly made calls to her boss at Penney's to say that she was right in the middle of giving blood? and might be, like, a couple of minutes? or, like, an hour late, you know? and like, she had to talk at full scream to her boyfriend who was standing there beside her looking like a real moron, see that the pheresis patients across the way were getting to watch Cast Away and didn't have a single blabbermouth anywhere around, quit squeezing, breathe sigh of relief when Blabbergrrl left, yank needle, hold gauze and give the fascist salute, clean Betadine, clamber out of the chair, rebutton shirt sleeves, go to canteen to look for fig Newtons AND THERE AIN'T NO DERNED FIG NEWTONS!!


If I had the strength, I would have gone all Hulk on them, but I satisfied myself with some nice crackers with sour cream and chive filling. (Two packs, dadgummit.) Walk out and that stinking girl is STILL there, having her snack with her dimwit at the front desk and loudly chiming in whenever anybody said anything.

You know, same old same old.

The Ticket Window Is Open!

Possumblog’s Travel Club often gets odd requests for fun and relaxing holidays. Just a while ago, a nice visitor from AOL came in wanting to know all about visit scary asylums of florida.

Yes, traveling to frightening Florida funny farms is a wonderful way to spend your free time, and we offer the following as examples you may wish to visit—there’s this one down at the southern tip of the peninsula, and then there’s this one with a Native American theme, but possibly the nastiest, most vile place is this festering mess.

(Football season starts in only 38 days!! WOO-HOO!)

For all of you who hated stupid, STUPID Blogger...

...and decided to switch over to something more reliable, like say, BlogStudio--Nate McCord sends the following cry:
It's been slow to impossible to load and isn't taking a couple changes I tried to implement. Ya might pass it on if you get a minute.

I'd hate to have to move back to Blogger...
Blogger--It's Not So Crappy NOW, Is It!?


The morning’s meeting today was unusually raucous, which is okay I suppose, although it does make it hard to take notes. We managed to make everyone all ill and cross and meanly-disposed, so I suppose it is no small irony that I will be going up to the Red Cross at lunch to give blood. Mmm. Fig newtons.

Anywho, last night’s festivities pretty much matched up with predictions—got across town to the Flying J truck stop over on Daniel Payne for a sip of sweet, sweet distilled petroleum.

You know, truck stops are very interesting places.

Then it was on to pick up Oldest, who promptly fell asleep the moment we cleared the driveway. Back across the county to the soccer park, swapped Oldest for Middle, participated in a public display of affection with Miss Reba through the open driver’s window of her vehicle, which brought squeals of protestation from the back seats, then waved them all good bye. Went and checked on Rebecca, who was out on the field warming up, told her I was going to go get a snack and would be back shortly.

Of course, I had to visit the strangely compelling Country Convenience store (the log cabin-looking one with the gas station and restaurant and pool supply and convenience stores). Decided I needed a bit more oomph than pistachios, so I got myself a can of Armour Smoked Vienna Sausages and a bag of chips.

Now, I know some of you may be horrified by my seemingly pedestrian choice of comestibles, but darn it all, Vienna sausages have a proud and noble heritage. First produced in Salzburg, not Vienna, they were manufactured as filling and nutritious snacks for soldiers in the Austro-Hungarian army. Their size is meant to replicate the case diameter of the common 11mm Werndl cartridge so that they could easily be carried on the march in bandoliers or clips. Later they were packaged in cans similar in size to stick grenades, again to better conform to military equipment requirements. After the fall of the Empire, soldiers continued to crave the rich, meaty goodness common to mechanically separated chicken, beef by-products, pork remainders, and nitrites, and an industry was born. Not really. It’s just ground up animals and flavoring. But yummy nonetheless.

Got my vittles and went back to the park and sat in the van a bit, then walked on down to the field. Again, with all the rain threatening, there were only a few of her team there, but they practiced anyway. And then, terrible pain and woe when her coach accidentally came down on her toes with his cleats. Much tears and barely restrained sobbing—I hugged her (and let me tell you, little girls can get very dirty and sweaty and generally nasty) and we sat on the bench for a while to make the pain go away. Which it didn’t.

Her team started a scrimmage with another group, and even when it seemed that it should be long past time for her toes to begin feeling normal again, she was still sniffling. So, being a good father, I did what I could to ease her misery. As you all know, loud public flatulence is an incredible balm to take away the hurt and pain of minor physical ailments among children, so I played her a gentle tune. Her stuck-out lip quivered and then quickly drew in, and a giggle leapt out.



“You’re SUPPOSED to say ‘excuse me’.”


“Youuuu know…”

“That wasn’t me, that was you!”

More giggles and denials, but still not ambulatory, so I continued with a lovely sonata in G minor, and after a while she was recovered. There is still the issue of the burnt shrubbery over behind the fence that I still have to take care of, but at least she’s walking again.

Home finally, nice bowl of soup, kids to bed, and then more resume tweaking for Reba. She went on TWO interviews yesterday morning, so hopefully she’ll find a better situation soon.

AND NOW? Well, it’s time to head up the hill to the Red Cross and unload some nitrites. See you in a bit.

Adventures in Headline Writing!

I saw this one and knew something was amiss--Dole Awarded Medal of Honor at Dedication

Bob Dole Awarded Medal of Honor on 80th Birthday at Dedication of Dole Institute
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- For his 80th birthday Tuesday, Bob Dole got a U.S. senator and Medal of Honor recipient to sing to him — and received a political institute bearing his name.

The dedication of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, though, focused more on Dole's fellow World War II veterans, scores of whom were at the ceremony.

Dole called Medal of Honor recipient Jack Lucas to the stage from his front-row seat and introduced the veteran to former President Carter.

At the end of the ceremony, Lucas, 75, of Hattiesburg, Miss., and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., led a crowd of about 6,000 in singing "Happy Birthday" to Dole. [...]
"Happy Birthday" is nice, but it's not quite a Medal of Honor.

Paved with Good Intentions Department

A commentary in the Birmingham News this morning about the recent decision by Shelby County Planning Commission (the one south of Jefferson County):
[...] Too many communities and shopping areas in the state's fastest-growing county don't include sidewalks. That's an issue for residents who would like to walk or jog for their health, and it contributes to the awful traffic congestion that knots up Shelby County's busiest areas, particularly U.S. 280. With public transit lacking, and no sidewalks, what choice do people have except to crank up their SUVs, minivans and sedans even if they just need to go a hop-skip down the street for a jug of milk?

The Shelby County Planning Commission recognizes the problem, and on Monday voted 6-0 for new regulations that would require sidewalks on at least one side of the street in most residential subdivisions and on both sides of the street in more densely developed areas. The proposed rules go next to the Shelby County Commission for consideration. [...]
In and of themselves, sidewalks are great things, and I can't think of an instance in which they detract from property values. It is good to be able to safely walk to places within walking distance. However, speaking as someone who lives in a neighborhood with nice sidewalks on BOTH sides of the street, someone probably needs to tell people that those nice concrete ribbons can actually be USED.

We have tons of joggers, and skaters, and moms pushing carriages, and people walking dogs--seems like every other stinkin' person in the neighborhood--and NO ONE will stay on the DADBURNED SIDEWALK!! And no one even follows the old safety rule about walking facing traffic--they just wander around like they're recovering from inner ear surgery.

You know, you TRY to make people understand--a little nudge with the front bumper here, a couple of tire squeals there, and they just look at you like you're crazy.

Notable Quotes!
“I’m a person who hasn’t had a relationship in a very long time and hasn’t had sex for over a year so I find my personal life really boring.”
-- Angelina Jolie in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Well, I suppose anything short of ritualized blood-letting would seem a bit tame. In any event, I believe it was Georg Hegel who said it best--“Don’t date crazy chicks.”
“This isn’t a movie about horses. This is a movie about people.”
-- filmmaker GARY ROSS, director of the upcoming horse-racing epic “Seabiscuit.”
And Mr. Ed was a TV show about an architect.

Hello...Calling Tasmania...Tasmania...Do you read me?

A quick shout-out to long-time reader Simon Roberts, Famous Tasmanian, who left a comment yesterday about receiving only 1/4 of his paid subscription to the cellulose version of City Journal--I sent a note to Brian Anderson (who is not the person to complain to, but whom I e-mailed anyway) about your problem and he promised if you will e-mail him your postal address, he will personally send you your missing issues.

The Ombudsman Staff of Possumblog stand ready to assist each of you in similar endeavors, although it much prefers assignments such as helping retrieve lingerie models who have become stuck in trees, or helping you spend excess money.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

HEY! How'd it get so late?!


Well, time to head for the house. By way of the gas station because I'm about out of gas again, and by way of Ashley's other grandparent's house across on the western side of the county (she spent the last two days with them), then by way of the soccer park, because Middle Girl's team is practicing again. I figure I'll actually be home home sometime after 8. And then I get to come in early tomorrow for one of our regular regulator meetings that are always so fun and subsequently take up valuable blogging time later in the day as I pound out a set of minutes. WHICH MEANS, the possum leavings will be dreadfully shy on the morrow. I know you will all make it just fine, though, because the entire Axis of Weevil is standing by waiting on your call!

See you later Wednesday.


Just received an e-mail from Brian Anderson, Senior Editor of City Journal to let me and all of you devotees of "school financing, policing strategy, and welfare policy to urban architecture, family policy, and the latest theorizing emanating from the law schools, the charitable foundations, even the schools of public health," that the newest edition is now online, with a range of articles such as "Straight Talk on Homeland Security" by Heather Mac Donald, "Israel Without Apology" by Sol Stern, and "Conservative Compassion Vs. Liberal Pity" by Michael Knox Beran.

Go and have yourself a read--I promised Brian that all three of you would, so please don't make a liar out of me.

D'you remember...

a few weeks back when I told you about the guy I work with (June 9, if the old Blogger link won't work) who pops in all the time with inane stuff and who won't go away? Well, sorry to remind you. Anyway, he also has another bad habit.

A few moments ago I walked into the men's room, only to find said co-worker having just finished speaking to a man about a dog. He turned from the urinal toward the open window (left wide open by the OTHER nutjob on the floor who feels compelled to open it up every time he enters the restroom and leave it there--same guy that brought collards to the Christmas party), and dropped his trousers to his ankles and proceeded to carefully smooth down the front and back of his shirt across the pimply, pasty expanse of his thighs and tighty-whitey clad loins.

A few thoughts:

1) Please close the window before you do that.

2) Your shirt was fine.

3) You don't have to drop trou like a six year old to fix your shirt, EVEN IF YOUR SHIRT IS KINDA WRINKLED!

4) Hey, the window is OPEN!

5) Although fashionable in some quarters, most men do not wish to walk in upon another man in the process of removing his trousers. Especially in a public lavatory.

6) Civil service jobs call for candidates to be highly skilled professionals. Or psychopaths. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. But, dropping your pants is probably a pretty good indicator of something other than technical competence.

7) May I remind you that you are standing in front of an open window? Yes, I know we're up on fifth, and the Alabama Power Company building is an entire block away, but still...

8) No, I really don't want to chat with you at the moment.

9) Please don't hang around to chat while I am cowering in the stall.

Thanks. I feel better now.

Just got one of those handy CNN Breaking News e-mails---- U.S.commander: Saddam's sons Qusay and Uday confirmed dead in raid on Mosul house.

I wonder how long it will be before a tape recording of them turns up urging the faithful to make jihad.

Boy Update!

Miss Janis (herself still recovering from getting all cut up), just said she needed an update on Jonathan's condition. As you all remember, he took lame a few weeks ago after a terrible skating accident at the local rink, which caused him to receive much petting and attention from various girls.

Well, he's bouncing around like a rubber ball again. He hopped around for several days, and apparently got tired of having to hop everywhere. He slowly started easing around on his sore ankle, and after a couple of days of hobbling was walking normally. He still has a bit of a hitch when he runs, but that doesn't stop him from running.

He and the rest of the kids were supposed to go skating again today, "Bud, are you going to try to skate today?"

Short pause--"Uhm, I'm not sure." So I told him to be SURE he laced his skates up tight if he did, so he wouldn't hurt himself again. "Okay, Dad!"

Little pine knot.

He brushed his teeth and then we all went downstairs, had a bowl of cereal, watched the hummingbirds eat their breakfast, and kept an eye on "I Love Lucy" on the TV.

Y’all pack yer bags—we fixin’ to go on us a GUILT TRIP!!

Oh, I’m sure there must be a good explanation—earthquake, typhoon, sudden aversion to marsupials. No one would ever just simply forget about lunch. With ME!

As I sat there self-consciously with two menus and two sets of silverware on the table in front of me, I began softly sobbing on my sleeve, wondering why I even bothered to get a haircut. Oh, I knew it couldn’t have been anything personal—such a personable and fun-loving local television reporter must be off covering IMPORTANT stuff. (Or…maybe she knows about the incident in 1976 in Keokuk….no, it can’t be!)

Or, maybe it was just a stack lies!! Each one, a tiny thin layer like philo, until I was crushed by giant baklava of deceit!!

I suppose maybe she just forgot. Forgot me like a used ta… [At this point, the Editorial Staff wish to remind The Readership that the Editor-in-Chief has occasional lapses of sanity, although it must be said that it is usually unnecessary to point out such occurrences.

In this instance, however, the Editor-in-Chief is not suffering from his normal abnormality, but is merely attempting in his odd, tongue-in-cheek way to play his grift upon the lovely Miss Preede. We believe (given the notes we have seen on his desk) that he is more than likely trying to induce her to provide him with Channel 6 coffee mugs and/or golf shirts, in addition to trying to angle a lunch on Fox’s dime, possibly a ride in a mobile news satellite truck, and as best we can tell, gain a meeting with the production staff to pitch his television show project, “The Amazing Mr. Possum and His Blog”. As always, we apologize for this silly, shallow, and shameless display. Ed. St.]

…ou cut me, DO I NOT SQUEAL, and hiss, and fall over and play dead?! OF COURSE…

[Well, he’s still going at it. Perhaps we underestimated his tenacity. Which is why we usually keep him locked in his office. In the interest of space, the 3,209 words which followed the above have been excised. Ed. St.]

...A passerby asked me why I seemed so distraught—I told him the whole pitiful tale, and he said, kindness brimming in his eyes, that maybe if I had a nice coffee mug, or golf shirt with the colorful Fox 6 logo professionally emblazoned upon it—maybe that would make me feel better. “Or, maybe I could ride around in one of those big trucks with the dish on top?” He patted my hand and nodded, “Yes, even something like that might make you forget your sadness.” Raindrops fell from the edge of the dirty canvas awning, “Or, maybe…no. NO! Such a thing is too much even to contemplate.” “What young fellow,” he said, “whatever do you think could lift your waxen heart from the depths of despair?”

“Well, you see, I have this idea for a television show—there’s, like, a camera guy following me around, and I have on this…

[Obviously, this little confidence scheme has gone on far too long. We express our extreme regret for The Editor-in-Chief’s behavior, and while we detest having to ‘get out the moose’, we believe such a course has been thrust upon us. We would like to invite Miss Preede to have lunch with any of the other staff members, especially Chet the E-Mail Boy, who keeps her photograph right beside his telegraph key. And Chet needs to eat more than does our Editor. Ed. St.]

Electragleiten im Blau--German police to test Harley motorcycles
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Police officers on heavy BMW motorbikes are a familiar sight on German streets, but Hamburg police on Tuesday began giving U.S.-made Harley-Davidsons a try instead.

The first seven of 20 specially equipped Electra Glide motorcycles were officially handed over to the Hamburg police force for a free one-year test, complete with blue lights, radios and "Polizei" — German for police — emblazoned across the front.

Harley-Davidson police bikes have been around for more than 90 years and are used in 45 countries, but Hamburg's police force is the first one in Germany to try them out, the company says.

Hamburg police currently have a fleet of 30 bikes from Bavarian auto and motorcycle maker BMW.
Hmm. Hard to believe they would ever make much headway against the spinning propeller boys, but maybe so. Harley's are much better screwed together nowadays than they were back in the AMF days, so good luck to them. (The big shame is that the Germans will probably put those annoying EEEiiiiiEEEEiiiiEEEEiiii sireens on theirs. It's just not right without a real one.)

Anyway, here's you a link to the 2003 Electra Glide, and a dealer page for the R 1150 RT-P.

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