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.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Distressing Tales of Domesticity!

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t posted anything about my scary experiences—one reason is that I don’t believe in all that crap, another is that I posted my few little brushes with creepy stuff LAST year at this time, and third is that real life is so much more gruesome and frightening.

Came home last and Tiny Girl was in her sickness-induced ill humor—“She says she lost the backs to her earrings.” ::sigh:: Those oh-so-wanted pierced earlobes—do not say ‘I told you so’, do not say ‘I told you so’, do not say ‘I told you so’.

“Come ‘ere, Squirt, let me see.”

She shoved her bottom lip out and crossed her arms and gave me the “Make me, sucker,” look, so I gently prodded and poked her until she was somewhat giggly, and then turned her ear around. No earring backs in site, and these were her NEW earrings to replace the starter ones. Little gold dolphins with a rhinestone chip that supposed to be a ball…hey, wait. “Hey, wait! Come here.”

Eww. Ick. Gasp.

No wonder she has been so touchy about taking her shirt on and off when getting her clothes together. Those backs WERE still there, jammed down so tight into the skin of her ear that they were nearly under it.

[insert sound of jarring piano chord]

Ick, again. And she was quickly in no mood for me to mess with her. “Whaaaaaaaa,” she said. And I still had to get the other two soccer players up to the park. I looked at Mama—“We’ll have to dig those out tonight when I get home.”

Got the other two going on putting on shin guards and cleats, and figured in the intervening minutes I would take the pumpkin which I had carved last Saturday (one of the many details which I left out of my usual weekend dissertation) and get it ready for the candle. Gotta carve a little hole in the bottom for one, you know.

Picked it up from its spot on the kitchen floor, placed it on the top of the stove, took off the lid and was presented with the second most sickening sight of the afternoon.

A lovely gray and black mane filling the inside of the pumpkin—it looked like Don King’s hair, except growing in rather than up. Eww. I got a paper towel and kind of halfway patted it all down against the inside of the grotesque gourd, because I figured it would be an even bigger mess to try to clean it out. Carved a little divot for the candle and traipsed outside with it and unceremoniously plopped it in the terra cotta pot outside the door. Ick.

Off to the soccer park, where I reread my Old Car Trader, then back home to my loving, screaming little child with earclampitus. Sat the other two down to finish their supper, then followed Tiny Girl and Mom upstairs to see what we could do. Reba had already doused them with peroxide and tried to get them loose, with no luck.

Not that luck has anything to do with it. It simply requires physical will. I wedged Cat between my gut and the bathroom vanity and managed with great effort (and high-pitched wailing ululation that would impress a mob of angry Arabic women) got the back off the right ear. More peroxide, sniffles, and then, Round II.

The left ear was much more problematic. The back of the earring was WAY down there, and after the first one, Catherine was in NO mood to be still and cooperate. I tried, then Reba tried, then Catherine ran around whooping like Curly Howard, except without the entertainment value.

Every move toward her ear was greeted with her pushing away all those grabby hands. Not having a straitjacket handy, but a keen knowledge of professional wrestling, I wound up pinioning her arms behind her and holding her head, while Reba dug the offending scrap of metal out. Good thing that we aren’t on one of those TV reality shows—to an untrained viewer, it probably looked like we were killing her.

I know it sure sounded like it. (Casa de Possum, where unearthly screams aren’t just for Halloween!)

Anyway, she was finally freed from the grip of ear vanity. “No more, girls. NO more. Not another earring until…well, just never.” She sniffled and snubbed for a bit, and Reba cleaned all the ookie gookie ick off of her lobes with yet more Q-tips, each of which Catherine inspected closely and pronounced as, “eww, gwoss!”

So see, I have neither the time nor the energy for all that “other side” garbage—I have crusty ear lobes to tend to. (And to top it off, Reba took her to the doctor today and found out she has ANOTHER ear infection. Not from the earrings, though. Just one of those horrible congestion things that makes Cat both irritable and hard of hearing.)

AND, then there’s our festivities of the evening—I have no idea what the kids are going as this year. I got the big box of costumes down and it’s sitting in the middle of the floor of the kitchen, so I guess I’ll be surprised when I get home. I just hope I can stand it!

And we have another couple soccer games tomorrow, and I have STILL got to put out those pansies, and sometime in the next few days, my painter guy is going to get going on the outside.


See you all Monday—have a good weekend and don’t eat too many Butterfingers!!

Game 9

Well, after getting our tails mashed in the screen door last weekend by a better team of Tigers (actually, more like we held our OWN tails in the screen door and repeatedly slammed it), this weekend it’s time to bring in yet another team from the Sportsman’s Paradise and try to avenge our wounded pride.

This week’s spine-tingler places the Plainsmen (5-3 overall, 4-1 SEC) up against the Indians of Ouachita Parish Junior College, now known more formally as the University of Louisiana-Monroe (1-7). As always, a team has been scheduled for our Homecoming game which is…well, ummm…let’s just say it ain’t like playing Oklahoma.

Coach has been talking a good talk about preparing for the Indians, but when you consider that the game day notes have not been updated since the LSU game (I finally found it here, but only after searching through the root directory for it), you kind of get the idea that the players and staff might be looking ahead a bit on the schedule. After UL-M, the Tigers play SEC West leaders Ole Miss, then travel to Athens to meet another bunch of Bulldogs, then the regular season closer against those rascally Red and Whites.

BUT, to ignore the opponent of the week in favor of the ones coming up can invite disaster. Frankly, in the games the Tigers have lost this year, they have been played at a level of play where they could be whipped by a motivated high school team. The Indians really have nothing to lose, and so might decide that they can pull the turf out from under the Auburn crew.

Sadly though, it seems the Indians may even be afflicted with ennui themselves, because in the one true measure of football efficacy, the cheerleading squad, they have ZERO photographs. Not a single one, anywhere. Oh, they DO have cheerleaders, but have not taken the effort required to post even a tiny group shot. Hmph! Truly a sad state of affairs.

Of course, not quite so sad as the status of Possumblog Sports Center’s Chief Statistician, Ipsa Dixie. After last week’s stunningly inaccurate prediction of the outcome of the game against the Bengal Tigers, Ipsa, sadly, resigned. The rest of the guys in the Sports Center blame me, of course, but we have standards to uphold, you know. (And we have a fresh scratch keyed down the side of the Weevil Sports Van.)

Given this turn of events, I have asked the lovely Nikki Preede, local Fox television reporter, to assist us in this important effort to give YOU the information you need.

I have just now scribbled a memo to her begging her favor, given it to trusty Chet the E-mail Boy, and now am able to report that Miss Nikki’s response is…

Well, she hasn’t gotten back to me yet. But when she does, YOU will be the first ones to know!

UPDATE: Success!! Miss Preede just sent this, which Chet breathlessly handed me:
I have to consult with my head prophet, “Booger.” That would be the impartial (even hails from Switzerland) puppy, appropriately colored black and white to emphasize his non-partiality. Let me call him...leave him a message on the answering machine... he won't answer while home alone—he has flashbacks to his days working for Ms.Cleo. (She is worse than Kathy Lee. Slavedriver.)
After an appropriate period of in-person consultation with Booger, Nikki sent along the requested prediction:
Tell everyone that Booger ate 48 dog biscuits... then threw them back up... so 48-0.
So there you have it, straight from the dog’s mouth. Auburn 48 – ULM 0.


What's the first thing you think of when you think of Possumblog?

Obviously, everyone thinks a little something different, such as the person who just wandered in searching for car loans for people with god-awful credit.

I'm amazed not only that Possumblog is the 45th returned result, but that anyone has such bad credit that they click on the 45th result, knowing that it leads to something named after what is normally the victim of a speeding car.

I think that's irony or something, but I'm not quite sure.

::sniff:: I'm SO proud!

Worst drivers: Teens, doctors, lawyers

Steer clear of architects, too.
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - It shouldn't surprise you that students get in more car wrecks than those in any other occupation. They're inexperienced and lack a healthy dose of fear. Lucky for them that a doctor is likely to be at the scene. Medical doctors rank second in accident rates.

According to data from Quality Planning Corporation, a San Francisco-based company that helps insurance companies rate driver risk, attorneys, architects and real estate agents round out the top five most crash-prone occupations. [...]

The company also looked at which occupations are most prone to speeding tickets. Again, students, nine percent of whom got a speeding ticket, top the list. Virtually tied for second place enlisted military personnel, manual laborers and politicians, all of whom got speeding tickets at a rate of about eight percent. Seven percent of architects got speeding tickets. Architects and students were the only professions to make the top five in both lists. [...]
Amazingly enough, my only accidents and speeding tickets occurred while I was a student.

As for why my brothers and sisters rank so high in collisions, I can only suppose that like doctors, they are running on only a little bit of sleep, and like lawyers and real estate agents, they are on the cell phone all the time. (I remember when I worked at the Bad Place, I sometimes would have to ride with my boss, who would talk on the phone, drink coffee, and floss his teeth at the same time.)

As for the speeding part of the equation, probably equal parts inattention and the need to respond to an urgent call from a client screaming about something the contractor did on a jobsite, or vice versa.

In my case, the sleeplessness is no longer having to do multiple all nighters to finish a job, it's just regular old parental duties that require staying up all hours. Sometimes it's real hard to keep going, and it would probably be better if I just pulled over and collapsed for a few minutes. I do refuse to carry a beeper or cell phone, so that cuts down some on the distractions, and I have become much more patient driver over the years.

Nothing breeds caution like having to pay an increase in premiums out of your OWN pocket, rather than out of mom and dad's.


(Updated throughout the day!)

More entrants today from the SECOND ANNUAL ALL-FIRED AXIS OF WEEVIL SCARY STORY BLOGBURST--first, a face-to-face meeting with one of the undead (who, believe it or not, drive large General Motors sedans. See how scary!?) from Mistress Meryl:
[...] I stopped for a light. There was a single car in front of me, a large sedan, a silver Oldsmobile or Cadillac. There was no other traffic around on my side of the light.

The driver in the car in front of me opened his door, got out of his car, turned in my direction, lifted his arm and pointed at me. Whether it was a trick of the light or not, his skin was dead white, his hair was white, and he was extremely tall and thin. I was utterly convinced that he was a vampire...[...]
A vampire, or...


AND, although not technically part of the Axis of Weevil, Fritz Schranck is still an evil, EVIL man.

AND, there is also news of a terrible incident at lovely Weevil State University.

AND, Mr. Charles Austin with a terrifying story of brain-eating curculios! And Illiberal Utopian Statists!! (Few things more frightening that a Richard Cohen column.)

AND, Sugarmama comes up with a list of scary stuff, because THE CORPORATE WORLD SUCKED HER CREATIVITY DRY!!

AND, SeaDoc sees spooks!
[...] I was five or six when my parents bought the house that now stands on the site where the old farmhouse once was. We moved in, and as my mother tells it, there were a few nights of strange noises. The last night she had a visit from “her friend,” as she put it, has been told in my family for years. Everyone had gone to bed, and it was late at night. The doorbell rang. No one answered so it rang again. My mother got up to answer and no one was there. You might be thinking “knockers,” but that’s not the end of the story. [...]
Actually, unless your mom looks Morganna, I don't think I would be thinking knockers--but that's just me.

Now, for those who have not been keeping up with all of this silliness (and as a favor to Meryl to keep from having to wade through all of the rest of the flotsam and jetsam that makes up Possumblog), following is a list of what we have so far in the way of scary-fication, in more-or-less reverse chronological order:

Uncle Fester in street clothes

The Compleat Redneck Werewolf Series (coming to DVD for Christmas!)

Some guy telling stories at the library

Ophelia Jemison, 1938--"Spirits all over, they attract your attention whenever they like."

Ghost Reenactors at Wilder Tower

A terror whose name is too horrible to speak.

Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas

A Bearlink to a Dodgelink to some sage advice.

Draperies and aquatic waterfowl.

A whole list of links to various monster chiller haintliness.

Do not click on this link. (You were warned.)

SO, there you have what we have so far.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Trussville, AL--Skating on the razor-thin leading edge of technology!-- Hampton Inn first to offer free Wi-Fi
Ryan Mahoney

The Hampton Inn in Trussville has become the first metro-area hotel to provide free high-speed wireless Internet access throughout its facility.

Other local hotels - such as the Embassy Suites or Tutwiler - offer free Wi-Fi service in some areas or paid access in all areas, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance, but only Hampton's is available without charge in all guest rooms, public areas and meeting rooms.

Up to 256 guests can use the network at once, connecting automatically through Wi-Fi enabled laptops or handheld PCs. The system was installed in August by Nashville, Tenn.-based Sboca Wireless Network and gives Hampton an edge over its competitors, says general manager Matt Markopoulos. [...]
Take THAT all you big city sorts!

This is truly a revolutionary thing, and you just can't begin to imagine what sort of effect it will have on my life!! Let's see...ahhhhhh. Hmm. Well, there's... No. Uhhhm, I could--well, no, not that, either. If I had two of those--hmmmm. No.

Well, I don't know.

After leaving a pile of shattered clue bats in their wake... Moore lawyers say removal may be 'inevitable'
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Lawyers for suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore say they don't believe he can get a fair trial before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary on judicial ethics charges.

The attorneys said in a statement Thursday that it may be "inevitable" that Moore will be removed from office for not obeying a federal court order to move his Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building. [...]

Moore had asked that his trial be held somewhere like the 7,000-seat Montgomery Civic Center or the 1,200-seat Davis Theater in Montgomery, calling the Supreme Court courtroom that is normally used by the Court of the Judiciary "small" and "restrictive." Moore claimed any smaller location would restrict media access and deny him his constitutional right to a public trial.

But the court rejected Moore's request in a decision Wednesday, ruling instead that the case would be heard in the 210-seat Supreme Court courtroom to minimize costs and maintain proper security. The court laid out a plan for setting aside seats for the general public and the media.

Moore's lawyers said the decision meant the chief justice cannot obtain a "fair, public trial." [...]
Here, these are a hot item today.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I like seafood. I have also mentioned that the office microwave is right outside my door.

I don’t think I have ever mentioned that Lean Cuisine Baked Fish should not be considered seafood, and under no circumstances should anyone attempt to cook it in the microwave which sits outside my door.

Whole place smells like a [crude reference to southern European seaside bordellos removed in order to maintain proper decorum. In addition, no reference is implied or intended toward the previous post. Ed.]

Another one for the Icthypundit: 'Big Fish' premiere planned in Birmingham; possibly Montgomery
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- The upcoming movie "Big Fish," which was filmed in central Alabama, could provide a big benefit to the Ronald McDonald House.

Producer Bruce Cohen and novelist Daniel Wallace will visit Birmingham in December to attend a premiere of the film, which director Tim Burton shot in the Montgomery and Wetumpka area earlier this year. It is adapted from Wallace's book of the same name. [...]
And here's you a link to the movie site, as well as a nice review of Daniel Wallace's novel.

Come table with me.

Got a memo yesterday—

Please, do not forget we need you to stop by the Office of Personnel, on the 8th floor, Thursday, October 30,2003. We need you to briefly table with a representative from [blahblahblah—name of person, reason, etc.] The representative will be here from 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon and promises not to table more than 10 minutes of your time. [blabberblabber, etc.]
::sigh:: What is this world coming to?

Let’s see—I am a semi-educated, yet functionally illiterate middle manager, and I hear someone misuse a term in conversation, but I really like the way it sounds… “Table, table. Hmm, and here I just thought that was what they put the food on!” So I therefore decide to, in order to look real smart and all, load my memos with this little jewel. First time, I’ll make it a synonym for “meet”, and then just to show how even smarterer I am, I will use it one sentence later to mean “waste”.

It’s the flippin’ UNIVERSAL WORD!

‘I need to table with all of you this afternoon to table some ideas for tabling a table on the table about tables, but not tabling over five tables, with an emphasis on proper tablation and good tablosity.’


Remember, as Calvin said, “Verbing weirds language.”

"Sometimes you think that a person gets too old to dream, but you know what? I am still a dreamer"

The story of Helen Sellers Davis of Birmingham, a 1935 grad of Auburn University (back when it was Alabama Polytechnic) and the first female registered architect in Alabama. At 91, she is still practicing, as she has for the last 67 years. (Only two other women in the U.S. have practiced longer, each by one year.)

Thursday, November 6 has been declared a day in her honor.

Time to Adjust Your Sets

Oops. Just found out via Dr. Joyner that Mattew J. Stinson has up and moved from Blog*Spot to http://www.matthewstinson.com/blog/.

All of you go fix whatever it is that makes links work.

(As an aside, Blogger and Blog*Spot have been very reliable here lately. Not trying to jinx anything--just saying. It would be nice if they would add a button on the editing toolbar for blockquote. I use that a lot, and my fingers have gotten to where all they can type on the first attempt is the lisdexic version. But I'll take reliability any day. Sure hope those solar flares don't mess it all up.)

More Spooky Goodness, Courtesy of Dave

Regular Possumblog reader Dave Helton, scarer of young lovebirds, sends along another link to a site with lots of hackle-raising haintitude--Ghosts & Spirits of Tennessee.

Obviously, we denizens of the Goldenrod State can't let those Volunteers have all the fun, so here's a link to the Alabama Ghost Hunter's Society, and Alabama Ghost Hunting, and Parapsyse, The Alabama Ghost Research Society, and then there's Alabama Ghostlore, and Legends and Ghost Stories from the Tombigbee region, and al.com's own big old list of ghost stories, and to top it all off, a chilling tale (which covers both Hallowe'en and intrastate college rivalries), of a professor visiting the University of Alabama.

Of course, nothing about Alabama ghosts would be complete without a chat with Kathryn Tucker Windham.

Proof once again of John Hawkins’ hypothesis that “Anyone Can Post On The Internet,” this just in from our favorite local target of a federal investigation: Scrushy takes PR campaign to Web
News staff writer

Richard Scrushy has taken his image campaign to cyberspace with a Web site proclaiming his innocence in the HealthSouth accounting scandal and promising to reveal the truth.
Remember, just like Mulder said, “The Truth is Out There.”
The site, www.richardmscrushy.com, provides a lengthy biography of the HealthSouth founder and ousted CEO that begins: "Born in 1952 in Selma, Alabama - a town known as the birthplace of the civil-rights movement - Richard Scrushy is now fighting for his own rights and freedoms in the face of false allegations."

It includes a signed letter from him asserting the "personal accusations from the government, the press, various plaintiffs' lawyers, and even former co-workers I once trusted" are false.
Here. Use this.
"This Web site has been established to reveal the truth," the letter says. "I trust that you find it informative and enlightening, and will visit often to read the regular updates."
I would say, sir, your trust is misplaced.
The site, whose content is copyrighted by Scrushy, features a section called "Setting Things Straight" that includes attorney Thomas Sjoblom's explanation for Scrushy's refusal to testify before Congress on the scandal as well as a list of what is called media "inaccuracies."

Sjoblom said Wednesday the purpose of the Web site, which was launched this week, was to "level the playing field."
Of course! Because a multi-millionaire just can’t get a square deal in this country…
"People have been asking us what his side of the story is and people have been wondering when there's misinformation out there why it hasn't been corrected," he said.

"We need to straighten out the record."
Well, someone will probably get that opportunity under oath.
The Web site provides Scrushy's team the only mechanism for "broadbased distribution" of his message, Sjoblom said.
’Cause, you know, shilling yourself on 60 Minutes just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
It also provides visitors with a way to send Scrushy "a note of encouragement" or any information that might be helpful in Scrushy's defense.
Heh. Naiveté is so cute.
A section titled "Support" is still under construction. […]
Well, I’m sure they just want to be sure it will be able to handle the huge volume of well-wishers.
Scrushy isn't the first embattled CEO to assert his innocence on the Web. Domestic diva Martha Stewart launched her site, www. marthatalks.com in June, just hours after she was indicted on five federal counts related to her sale of ImClone Systems Inc. shares. The site says it has received 14 million visits, with 65,000 notes of support sent to Stewart.

Public relations experts at the time lauded Stewart's Web site as a shrewd move to build support, possibly influence jurors and save her business, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

James Cox, a Duke University law professor specializing in corporate governance, described Scrushy's Web site as "misdirected."

"I'm not sure what he's trying to rehabilitate. With Martha Stewart, it was useful because it props up the stock that bears her name. Richard Scrushy's middle name is not 'HealthSouth,'" he said.

The Web site is "further evidence of ego and being self-absorbed," he added.
Now, now, Professor—you’re just letting your envy and jealousy get the better of you!
Attempts to reach Scrushy were unsuccessful.
Imagine that.

What’s going to be even more interesting is when he starts his own blog.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

You know, today has just been a gorgeous day.

Temps right above 70 honest-to-goodness-Fahrenheit degrees, 34% (!) relative humidity, no breeze to speak of, and a sky that has been gloriously blue all day.

I'd link to a camera shot, but the FOX6 cam is stuck at just past midnight this morning, and the NBC13 cam looks like someone sandblasted the lens, so I suppose you'll just have to trust me. You'd think the Chamber of Commerce or the Convention and Visitors Bureau would have a way to show off like that with a camera or three of their own.

Oh well--I'll enjoy it for you.

Angry Left Slapfight!! Dean campaign complains to rival Gephardt
The Associated Press
10/29/2003, 1:58 p.m. CT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Democrat Howard Dean's presidential campaign complained to rival Dick Gephardt about an angry confrontation between staffers at an Iowa event.

The incident occurred during a Gephardt speech at a Des Moines, Iowa, senior center Tuesday. A Dean campaign worker got into an altercation with members of the Gephardt staff and was escorted from the event, according to Rod Boshart, a reporter for The Gazette, of Cedar Rapids. [...]
Silly Donkeys!

Oh, thank heavens! --NYC Mayor Bloomberg finally meets J.Lo

And all is now right with the world.

This just in!!--Wind May Alter Path of Calif. Wildfires

Use of "Water" May Even Stop Them

There's scary.

And then there's SCARY!!

Incredible tale of misery, woe, and duck draperies.

[By the way, there's also Scary Spice, and Richard Scarry, and Donatella Versace, but none of those have any relationship to this entry.]

About time

Clay-Trussville dispute over; Clay to alter signs
News staff writer

A contentious 3-year-old land dispute between Trussville and Clay has cooled as Clay agrees to cut its losses and move on.

Clay Mayor Charles Hart said last week that the city had done all it could to protest neighboring Trussville's annexation of a 17-acre tract of land on Deerfoot Parkway that now houses a Winn-Dixie Marketplace.

City officials decided during last week's City Council meeting to put the fight behind them by altering a set of signs at the entrance of the grocery store that added fuel to the dispute when Clay erected them back in March.

The signs read "Leaving Clay 5 percent sales tax. Entering Trussville 8 percent sales tax" Officials agreed that the sales tax information should be removed from the signs. [...]
And what signs they are. The store sits up a small hill, accessed from the main drag by a long driveway. The boundary between the two towns is about midway up the drive, and the signs are BIG green utilitarian roadway signs with white letters.

The article details a bit about the battle that prompted the City of Clay to put up the sign. Agree or disagree with the way the land annexation was done, the sign installation by Clay was childish and petulant, as were calls from elected officials to boycott the store. Such actions were unfair to Winn Dixie, did nothing to alter the course of litigation, and only wound up making Clay look small.

Taking off the sales tax message might be a good will gesture, but it's one that shouldn't have to have been made in the first place.

EVEN MORE Spookiosity!

Just now got a link from MommaBear to a right scary story in the Lovecraftian tradition, written by her buddy Andrew Ian Dodge (whew):
[...] “We are still a small village here Sage. It’s the middle of winter and he definitely does not look like a local. Make sure we tie him down so he doesn’t wake up with a jolt.”

They carried the young man to the back of the Land Rover and placed him on some padding, while bungieing him down like Gulliver in the back of the vehicle. [...]
OOOOOO!! Chilling!! Count Floyd gives it two fangs up!

(As a note to the other AoW members who want to participate but just don't have enough ectoplasm to make a good story--a proxy submittal is entirely acceptable. Management does reserve the right to insert gratutious "Y'alls", house trailers, and the dipping of snuff in order to Southern things up a bit.)

Sure to warm Lileks' heart is the November issue of National Geographic that arrived at my house yesterday with an article about balmy Fargo, ND.

The site above has an excerpt from the magazine article, which had a little throwaway line with the writer describing a girl he met as having a "fulsomely pregnant" belly.

I realize that there is an archaic usage that means "full", but the usage for most of the past couple of hundred years has been to denote something offensively large or digustingly overdone or lustfully wanton.

Probably not what was intended, I imagine. I know the writer probably meant "abundantly" or other such to signify the girl was really, REALLY pregnant, but it still grated my eyes to read it.

Word meanings change--after all, "awful" used to mean about the same as "awesome"--but in this instance, it would have probably been better to use something else.

I also wish they would never have started printing reader mail.

Being Unique

You know, one of the secrets of creating a name for yourself in this silly sport of blogging is to bring something to the table no one else does. It helps to have a wide-ranging set of things that interest you, but in order to set yourself apart, you really have to make yourself into a topical expert, preferably on arcane matters. That way, when someone ponders the imponderable, they will remember that YOU are the expert, and will flock to your blog in numbers uncountable on merely one hand.

I have found that thing that makes Possumblog unique--the thing that attracts readers from across the globe, yearning for the knowledge to be found here:
[...] He's the only person I know who counts and categorizes roadkill during long car trips. And blogs about it.
I think I can safely say that I feel the same joy that Navin Johnson felt when he wrote home to his parents that he had found out what his special purpose was for!

Thank you, Miss Meryl, for giving word and form to what makes Possumblog the Greatest Blog in the Entire Universe*!

[*Legal Disclaimer: In this case, "universe" is limited to those blogs which have the word "possum" in the title, and which are written by a slow-thinking man who wears glasses.]

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The Second Annual All-Fired Axis Of Weevil Scary Story Blogburst Begins to Bear Fruit!

Here's one from up in Kudzu Country:
[...] The old barracks were not well heated and the warmest place was the bed. A few minutes after 10:00 PM, Saber started growling. Judy told him to be quiet thinking he heard someone going down the hallway outside their front door. She had barely gotten the words out of her mouth when Saber came running into the bedroom, jumped on the bed and crawled whimpering under the covers. Nothing Judy could do would make him come out.

A few seconds after Saber jumped on the bed, Judy felt an icy chill in the room, much colder that it had been. Just as quick as it came, it left.

Judy saw a shadow on the wall outside the bedroom that looked like that of man cast by an oil burning lamp, flickering and hard to discern. She got out of bed, got her pistol and went to look in the hallway. [...]
Spooky! But not as terrifying as this poor guy's nightmare:
[...] I took one for the team this weekend and watched Gigli, yes, Gigli the remarkably bad Bennifer movie. Call it an experiment, if you will, or call it masochism, if you won't, but I thought it my duty to see this artifact of the early 21st century so that later generations might be spared. [...]

Er, well, thanks. Or, you’re welcome. Or something.

I was making one of my regular jaunts to the outhouse this morning when I was halted by one of our secretaries—“There’s a lady at the counter who’s looking for some information about her property?” The implied question was, “Would you please see if you can help her.” I am usually the one who gets tagged in situations where, ahhh…the citizen standing there is less than clear in his or her requests. Yeah, that’s a nice enough way of saying it.

We get all sorts of lost souls up here, routed by folks downstairs who just want to be rid of them, and since (believe it or not) I am incredibly patient with deranged and angry and disaffected persons, I get to talk to them.

I walked out to the counter and no one was there. “Ma’am?” I asked the intern at the desk what happened and just then heard a scuffling below the edge of the counter. “Ma’am?” She was bent down doing something on the floor—I could just see a portion of her back. “Ma’am?” Scuffle. Shuffle. Flipflipflip. Rattle.

She finally stood up. “Oh, good, you’re here.”

“Yes, ma’am, how can I help you?”

She was not unattractive, of a certain age (and height), with tall, brunette hair (I think Ultress Dark Brown 3N, but I’m not real sure), brashly dressed, and was busy putting a bold pearl lavalier onto her glasses as she talked. And boy, did she talk.

I was able to garner that she had a piece of property, and wanted to know if it was in any special districts. “Okay… yes ma’… I’ll che… yes ma’am… just a mome…I’ll be righ…”

I came back to my desk, keyed it into our Super Whiz Bang Golly Gee Machine, pressed Play, and copied down her information—nothing out of the ordinary.

I took it back out, and she was devouring a city directory—“Did you just get these? I didn’t know that they had these! I can’t find my address ANYWHERE! Are these the [insert unintelligible name of something or somebody]?”


“What do you call these?”

“City directories.” I really wasn’t trying to be a smart aleck—they’re just city directories. My lack of a detailed answer didn’t seem bother her, though. I gave her the scrap of paper I had written her information on and told her she was good to go. “OH. That. Is. GREAT! That is SO wonderful. NOW. I need you to go write that all down on one of your business cards and give it to me so I’ll have it.” I turned to go, and she had another request, “AND, I need a copy of THIS PAGE right here out of this book!” I started to get it and make a copy when I went back—the copier sits right outside my door, after all. And I was really getting to be in a dire situation due to my interrupted journey to the necessary.

“NO! Honestly, if you can just first write that down—it’s the SINGLE most important thing, and THEN you can make the copy.”


“Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou…” Her voice trailed off behind me as I went back to my office and got out a card and came back to the counter and wrote down the same stuff that was on the slip of paper I had given her. “OH! This is SO wonderful. Now, if you will just staple your card onto this paper, I will just LOVE YOU until the day I die.”

Thanks, lady.

I grabbed a stapler and joined our hearts together as one, then grabbed the directory she was shoving at me. “Just that ONE PAGE please, if that’s okay!”

Copy, back to the counter, where she was now agitated. “I just CAN’T BELIEVE that my address is not in either of these books. I have LOOKED, and I have LOOKED, and I CANNOT FIND MY ADDRESS IN THESE BOOKS!” I gave her her copy, then took the larger of the two and started thumbing through the street names.

“I HOPE you can find it.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I just HAVE to know who all of the neighboring people are!”

“Yes, ma’am.” I suppose going next door and knocking was out of the question.

“Right here, ma’am. This page right here.”

“OH. HOW! DID! YOU! DO THAT!? Now, if I could get a copy of THAT page, it would just be so wonderful, and I would just LOVE YOU until the day I die.”

I thought we had that covered with the stapling, but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to give an extra go at it.

Went and made the copy, then came back and gave it to her. She was very happy.

Some people, you know.

Well, I'll be. JUST UPDATED!

Reader Dave Helton just sent me a link to an ENTIRE SITE devoted to Gothic Southern Spookiness, called The Moonlit Road. They do tales of the eerie EVERY MONTH!

Wow, you really can find anything on the Internet.

Anyway, lots of creeply-crawlers in there--Dave sez:
I enjoyed the story about "Green Eyes" but I've camped out there many a night and never saw anything strange...but we did scare the heck out of some kids at Wilder Tower one night.
Shoot, the name "Wilder Tower" is scary enough!

Anyway, many thanks, Dave.

(We need to get that boy his own blog.)

UPDATE: Dave recounts the terrifying “Incident at Wilder Tower”...
Wilder Tower is on the southern side of Chickamauga battlefield. It was built as an observation tower back when the Army ran the park. It is located on a little ridge that Col. Wilder’s brigade of mounted infantry was sitting on when Longstreet made his famous breakthrough a little ways to the north.

There are many statues and monuments there.

One weekend we were doing artillery (maybe infantry, it’s been a while back) and decided to go on a “walkabout” late Saturday night. We ended up at the tower and were sitting on the steps talking when we heard a car approaching. At first we thought it was one of the park rangers. When the car got a little closer, we realized it wasn’t a ranger. We figured (correctly, it turns out) that it was a bunch of kids going “parking”.

One of our guys (there were at least a dozen of us) said, “Everybody stand reeeaaal still,” which is exactly what we did. The kids (2 girls and 2 guys) pulled into the little parking area and got out of their car and started up the stairs that lead up the hill to the tower.

Someone must have shifted a little (we were doing a fair job of looking like statues—hiding behind statues and hiding in the shadows) because one of the kids said, “Hey! I just saw something move!” One of the other kids replied, “Aww, you’re stupid!” and continued up the steps.

By this time we couldn’t stand it any further and someone started going “wooooooooooooooh”, at which point the rest of us took up the cry/chant/wail.

I have never in my life seen four people get into a 2-door car and peel out of a parking lot in that short an amount of time.

Bad, bad men.

Oral Histories

I link to the Library of Congress site a lot, because it is a rich source of material--doing a search through the collections you can find just about anything.

In keeping with this morning’s call for entries, I thought I would do a little research on spooky stuff and came across the interview of Ophelia Jemison of Charleston, SC. It was conducted in 1937 as part of the WPA Writers Project program by Cassels R. Tiedeman (about whom I have only been able to find that she died in 1952, and Miss Ophelia seemed to be just about her sole assignment with the WPA.)

Ms. Tiedeman describes Ms. Jemison thusly:
Ophelia Jemison, born three years after freedom, is a typical Negress of the emotional type, possessing many of the characteristics of her African ancestors. In expressing her religious feelings she becomes most dramatic and when, as she is fond of doing, she tells a Bible story, she enacts the part of the main character of the story, really losing her identity. [...]
You kind of get the idea that Ms. Tiedeman was a bit put off by her subject? Anyway, she conducted about 14 interviews with Ms. Jemison, each one painstakingly transcribed into what I’m sure Ms. Tiedeman would describe as ‘accurate Negro dialect’, and about 3/4 of which have some sort of ghostly subject matter.

Dialect is dreadfully difficult to do in a way that doesn’t detract from the story matter or demean the speaker. Ms. Jemison has some real corkers—the following is one entitled simply ‘Ghosts’. You can read the original version here, and the following is my version with some of the cumbersome dialect edited a bit to make it more readable:
Ophelia was asked if she believed that spirits ever came back to see their loved ones.

“I know spirits come back. I seen ‘em. If a person die, mean and wicked and want you, he come back and get at you, sure thing. You just go up to the graveyard at sundown, and hold your head close down to the ground, you can hear ‘em comin’ up louder and louder, and if you don’t get away, you’ll be snatched down in one of them graves!

I seen my husband one time. He stand by my side, but he was very little in size, with a big head—about like that waiter over there on the table—and his hair parted on the side just as natural. He was all dressed in white, with long, flowing sleeves.

You see, he was killed sudden-like, without he have time to tell me nothing, so he come back to have his say. He say it all right, but I ain’t catch what he say, then I wanna talk to him, but he vanish.

Maybe I too wicked to talk to a spirit.”

But Ophelia, how can spirits come back to this world?

“Lord, miss, spirits ain’t fastened down—they freer than we! They come back whenever they like, but some don’t ever come back any. Tom and Alice, two of my family, been talking to me this morning, ‘cause I been hear a buzzing in my ear and I knowed they want to know how come I here with you.”

Did they find out?

“Oh! They come again and again till they satisfy themself. They know by the way I talk when that buzzin’ aggravate me.

Spirits all over, they attract your attention whenever they like.”

Wow, what a shock. Arabs Blame United States for Baghdad Bloodbath

I don't know if any of you have ever noticed this, but there are a great many Arabs who blame us for everything.

Speaking of scary...Alabama's ghosts coming to library
News staff writer

Just in time for Halloween, Alabama's haunted places will be the topic of discussion tonight at the North Shelby Library on Alabama 119.

Alan Brown, professor at the University of West Alabama, will present "Hoodoo, Haints and Horror: Alabama's Historically Haunted Places" at 6:30 p.m.

Sloss Furnaces, the Homewood Public Library and the Linn-Henley Building in downtown Birmingham are some of the locations to be discussed, Brown said.

Many people have heard ghost stories about Sloss Furnaces, but not all of them are legitimate, Brown said.
Yeah, 'cause you know, some ghost stories are REAL!!
"So many people make up things, like the ghost they made up on the Internet," he said. [...]
I just can't believe anyone would actually MAKE UP a ghost story!! Why, that's just terrible!!

Anyway, those of you in town with some time to spare might want to check him out.

Oh no, not again.

Well, OF COURSE, again! Why let a good thing go to waste!? What am I talking about?

Read along with me as we take a peek behind the curtain in the lush and swanky Axis of Weevil World Headquarters building, as yet another memo hits the desks of the membership:
Good morning, fellow travelers!

WHEREAS it is late October, when all the frightening, creepy, scary things come out (such as haints, goomers, boogerbears, and politicians), and

WHEREAS this fine State of Alabama, and indeed all of those surrounding it, are all eat up with wild, otherworldly tales of particularly peculiar, gruesome, and terrifying natures, and

WHEREAS we all, being in some odd way connected to the great and wonderful assemblage of counties and municipalities which make up the State of Alabama, and

WHEREAS we have become further associated together by the alchemy of time and circumstance to form the blogospheric alliance known as the Axis of Weevil, and

WHEREAS any goodly Axis worthy of its name does occasionally take it upon itself to work in concert to produce trouble and woe, and

WHEREAS I thought it might be fun, and

WHEREAS it helps fill up space on my blog,

THEREFORE, let it be RESOLVED, that all of us Weevils should take the opportunity presented by our association and by the fortunate and auspicious time of year to produce


in which each member of the Alabama Society for the Preservation of Mendaciousness agrees to post at least one heeby-jeeby story of brushes with paranormality, inexplicable occurrences, pure 'D' evil, disembodied voices, woodland critters, or other such foolish trash.

We are all greatly aware of the debt we owe to Kathryn Tucker Windham, but for the sake of originality and in the great tradition of Southern storytellers, we seek stories of mayhem and fright of your own personal experience (or failing any dalliances with the undead, just make something up.)

SO THEN, minions of Weevilosity, who is once again up to the challenge?
As you all no doubt recall, this little exercise was also carried out last year about this time, resulting in severe bouts of chillblains and neck-hair-standing-upitude. This year promises to be even more frightful, seeing as how the Axis of Weevil has doubled in size, so be sure and check around the blogroll up above and see who all has something spookish to tell.

I know of one good ol' feller who was so anxious to talk that LAST WEEK he went off and posted a whole SERIES of stories about the fearsome REDNECK WEREWOLF!! AaahhHHHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

Ahem. Sorry. Channeling Count Floyd there for a minute.

Anyway, be prepared for lots of chillingly frightning scariness.

Management assumes no responsibility for injuries caused by fainting, or for anyone dying outright just from sheer terror.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Okay now—Friday night was mostly uneventful—I just sat there and watched Boy practice while studiously reading my Old Car Trader to keep from having to talk to the relentlessly peppy guy who plopped down right beside me. Yes. I am antisocial.

Got home and received the Icy Look of Doom for having frittered away precious time by being away from home instead of helping with the laundry. Miss Reba had a long week last week, and came home feeling unappreciated and put-upon, so I was placed on double secret probation for the rest of the evening. It finally got bedtime about eleven, at which time she stationed herself on the edge of the bed, wrapped up in the sheets like a mummy. I leaned over to give her some sugar and propped there on my elbow for a minute afterwards, poised to turn off the television. “Quit staring at me!”

Huh? “I wasn’t—I was about to turn off the TV.” I am very intuitive, though. “Reba, what’s wrong?”


See, I know better. I know that means I have been a horrible human being.

“I know something must be wrong—you would feel better if you tell me.”

I heard Alan Alda say that once, I think.


“Have I done something wrong?”


“Have I NOT done something I should have done?

No response. Ahhhh. Finally.

“Would you tell me what I didn’t do?


“Would you tell me what I didn’t do if I somehow managed to guess what it was?”

“Go to bed.”

“You’re not going to tell me?”


Now then. Let me just say right here and right now, I don’t ever want to hear anyone say that the problem with men is their unwillingness to talk about sensitive issues. Or is it listen? Oh well, I can never remember.

So I fixed the problem by pinching her repeatedly on the bottom and trying to kiss her on the back of her neck, which provoked her into much slapping at my nether regions and rather-less-than-convincing demands to be left alone. She kept trying to pout after I relented, but I am like what Steve Martin said about banjo music—just like it’s impossible to play a sad song on the banjo, it’s impossible for her to stay mad at me. For very long.

Anyway, off to slumber, then up again early Saturday to get ready for Jonathan’s soccer game. As an attempt to damp down any lingering ‘send ‘im to the doghouse’ sentiments, I thought since we were going to be gone all day for that silly game then for our silly festival at church, that it sure would be nice to come home to a big vat of homemade chili for supper.

Out with the crock pot, out with the tomato paste, in with the seasoning. We always use Carroll Shelby’s seasoning mix—it’s good enough, and he’s a real character, and when I hit it big I’m going to blow it all on a Cobra. I let that cook while we were gone, then browned up some beef and some Jimmy Dean mild pork sausage when we got back to put in it, along with some onion and some other stuff that I do not care to divulge. But no music fruit—no use tempting fate and setting off the smoke alarm with unregulated methane releases.

Everyone else eventually woke up and got ready, then it was off to the far reaches of north Jefferson County to Bradford. Way, WAY up Highway 79, and made even more frustrating by the fact that I had to make a detour. As is usual, we left no earlier than the slowest girl getting dressed, so we had no time to spare. Threw everyone in the van, set out and came to a dead stop going up Chalkville Mountain Road due to some fancy-pants 5k run. The police had the road blocked and instead of letting a car or two burn some rubber between slow-footed runners, they just kept everyone in place. So I turned around and went the LONG way around, killing about fifteen minutes of time, and arriving at the park about fifteen minutes late. ::sigh:: At least we got there.

The game was rather pitiful. The other team was not that great, and Boy’s team was actually passing and moving the ball around pretty good. And we STILL managed to lose by 2-0. Oh well, as I say every time, at least he has fun.

Back in the car, and onward to the search for breakfast—we had to leave without getting anything fixed, and with our unintended detour we left no time to get anything on the way so everyone was famished, especially Catherine, who has been battling a sinus infection/head cold which makes her alternately grouchy/tired/insane/deaf/intransigent/crabby and/or peevish. And she wanted to go to McDonald’s. And threw a complete and utter fit when we left the drive-through line at the first one. But it looked like it was going to take an hour, and I knew of one just up the road. Which turned out to be non-existent. Which meant we wound up getting all the way back to Trussville before we found one. And it was 10:34, and you know what that means.

That’s right—steaming hot tears of grief when we were told they were no longer serving breakfast. “WHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA” said Tiny One. I was tempted to tell her it was not that big a loss since it’s nothing but the rendered remains of dead farm animal flesh, but I figured that would be pressing my luck, so we finally got her to calm down and accept a perfectly good alternative from Sonic.

Back to the house to let them eat, then some heavy duty cooking of other dead farm animals for my chili, then the derned doorbell rang.

A painter, it was.

The young couple next door had gotten their house spruced up earlier this month and the guy did a pretty fine job, so I asked him to give me an estimate. He left their job without giving me one, which I attributed to sheer painterliness. Turns out he had given my address to his boss to contact me, but the boss didn’t know my name or phone number. So he decided to drop by.

We walked and hunkered and pointed and talked football, as well as actually discussed what all would go on with this here paintin’ deal. Sounded like a great fellow, and one who understood how to do the job the right way. He’d better—it’s gonna cost me $3,900. The front of our house is brick, but all the rest of it is siding, and some of it had to be nailed back, and some of the trim has to be replaced, and the back is two stories high, and there’s having to move the Pretty Plastic Playhouse That is NOT a Storage Building, so I guess there’s probably enough in there to justify the price. I’m going to get another, just to satisfy myself that I shopped around, but I liked this guy. After all, he said he “had all that workman’s comp insurance and was a Better Business member and all that crap.” What more could one ask for?

After he left, some strange woman came out of the house and got in a car on the driveway—this turned out to be the mom of one of Rebecca’s friends whom she had invited to go to the fall festival with us. And it was time to leave—we had to get there early to help get stuff ready.

Got everyone strapped in and got to the building and started scurrying around trying to look busy. Helped tote some stuff, ate some stuff I wasn’t supposed to eat, and then got to play with the tractor. As you will note in the comments below in this morning’s first post, this is a mid-‘80s model Allis Chalmers (please, no jokes about her being Auburn’s homecoming queen—I’ve already heard them) with a 40 horse diesel that we use to tow a mower deck to cut the grass at our church building. And pull a trailer full of hay and kids all over the yard every October. It looks a bit like this one, except it doesn’t have a roll bar which occasionally gives me palpitations—the church property is mostly nice and flat looking, but does have several moguls that appear out of nowhere and cause you to feel more tippy than is absolutely required. I try to keep an eye out and figure out the best way to jump off to avoid being crushed.

Anyway, we got that cranked up about 2:30 or so, and I drove around for the next 2 1/2 hours. The highlights are going under our low-hanging cedar trees and knocking everyone in the head, the death-defying back hillside which is full of large hillocks and dips, and the occasional excursion into the parking lot, where I weave in and out of the covered drop-off and through the rows of cars at a blazing 20 miles per hour.

But, such shenanigans are awfully hard on the hearing and the glutes. As I noted earlier, the exhaust pipe exits right at ear level, and it being a diesel means lots of shaky-rattle gets transferred to the operator. I finally got a break along about 5, when I clumbered down to eat a hot dog. Felt like I was still on it. And not in a good way.

Finally got through around 6, then it was back to the house with a vanload of sugar-fortified squealers, all blabbering at top volume and velocity. Took our visitor to her house, and then had to wait as Catherine used their bathroom, and then had to wait more while everyone chatted. Finally got back up the street to our house, then scrubbed everyone down and went through the house resetting all the clocks and explaining in vain to curious children why it must be done. I told them it was Ben Franklin’s idea. “OHHhhh.”

Two microwaves, one coffee maker, one stove, two alarm clocks, two thermostats, two watches, two vehicle clocks, and two wall clocks later we had successfully gained an entire hour. Which was wasted, along with several more, listening to Auburn get thrashed by those evil Sabanites.

Off to bed, then back up Sunday, off to church, started my new class for the college kids (of whom, one is already gone due to a breakup with one of the other students), then on to preaching where I managed to stay very much awake for at least five minutes, then over to Ashley’s other grandparents house for lunch, then an emergency trip home when some sort of liquid-filled squishy toy was busted wide open by Demolition Child, spewing red goo everywhere. ::sigh::

Home, change, back up to the building, couple of meetings, then sit around and shoot the breeze with folks, then evening worship, where I was once again a marvel of stay-awakitude, then off to a new restaurant we haven’t tried yet. I can’t remember the name, but it’s the buffet and sushi place squeezed between the Mexican joint and the Big K-Mart. The sushi bar part really caused a lot of controversy.


Middle Girl: “It is?”

Boy: “SO, this is a Japanese restaurant?”


Tiny Girl: “Is sushi Chinese?”

Boy: “Sushi is Japanese.”


Middle Girl: “Why do they have sushi if it’s a Chinese restaurant?”

Tiny Girl: “Do they got soup?”


You ever hear of “burst communication”? It’s the way submarines send radio messages—they surface, then send a quick, dense burst of encrypted communication to a satellite—all of it compressed down to a few seconds. That’s what it sounded like. Everyone talking at the same time—one at top volume, all at top speed.

Daddy: “Can we all please just HUSH and go inside and eat our food in peace and not try to outdo each other with our knowledge of international foodstuffs?”

Tiny Girl: “Do they make soup here?”

Inside we go, striking no small amount of fear into the staff, although they hid it well. The food was pretty good—I think we were a bit too late in the evening for the really good (i.e. hot beyond room temperature) food, but it was your normal selection of stuff, including the much-talked-about sushi bar, soup, various bits of meaty things with vegetables, as well as a pile of steamed crawdads. Sorry, just not that adventurous at 9 o’clock at night.

Not that it helped—last night’s postprandial dreamstate featured a splendid array of the vibrantly terrifying as well as the gloriously absurd. I can’t remember any of it in detail, although I do vaguely recall a frantic telephone call. And being cold. I’ll not do that again. At least until next week.

And then I woke up, and I was here. It’s been a long day, and it’s going to be a long evening.

Maybe some of that chili would hit the spot.

It's In The K!!

AdAge's Bob Garfield with a dissection (if you can consider using a meat cleaver a dissection) of K-Mart's newest ad campaign.
Welcome to the latest installment of Survivor: Troy, Mich., as the new owners of the freshly solvent Kmart try to keep their company alive with a large dose of advertising.

Of course, Kmart's problems, historically, have had almost nothing to do with advertising and almost everything to do with not being able to compete with Wal-Mart. Let's just say that that condition is still critical. So this advertising isn't being introduced as a cure so much as for its narcotic value -- starting with a really upbeat R&B rendition of the new slogan: "Right here, right now!"

No kidding?! So what?! [...]

The message is that Kmart is no longer utterly devoid of fashion sense. This is communicated by the soulful sloganeering and video of extremely cool-looking New Yorkers grinningly outfitting their cool bodies and cool cribs with Kmart merchandise. So turned on are they by the Kmart experience that they spontaneously blurt out, "It's in the K!"

This is where the ads run into some little problems, much in the way Martha herself has run into some little problems. (By the way, is she saying "It's in the K?" or -- what it sounds like -- "in the cake?" Is she speaking of surprisingly hip merchandise or a contraband metal file for sawing through iron bars?)

Anyway, the point is, what's "in the K" is still mainly one employee per hectare, a lot of downscale shoppers and lots of clothing produced in places where you need a shot in the arm not for stimulation but to ward off cholera. [...]

Probably not worth pointing out that in baseball they use Ks for strikeouts.

But, we still shop there some--it's always nice and quiet, and occasionally you can find something there cheaper than you can at Wal-Mart. You would think, though, that with so few customers and so many employees wandering around, that it would be just a little bit cleaner.

Study finds toddlers eat too much fat

So, like, the hot buttered lard balls I fixed the kids for breakfast this morning aren't the right thing?

More over-18s are celebrating Halloween
[...] A first-time survey done in recent weeks by the National Retail Federation found that young adults are fueling the trend.

Of those surveyed, 57 percent in the 18-to-24 category said they planned to dress in costume and nearly half said they'd be attending a Halloween party. In the 25- to 34-year-old category, it was 45 percent and 37 percent, respectively.

Survey respondents in their 40s and 50s were more likely to decorate their homes and yards.

"I think our generation is a little more hesitant to let go of childhood than past generations," says Ehlert, the Chicago bar manager, who's 30. "We want to hang onto Peter Pan as long we can." [...]
For the record, I am 41 years old. I have no desire to hold onto Peter Pan, no matter the length.

Just wanted you to know.

If you ask me...

...going around wearing something like this is just begging to be knocked to the ground in a melee.

Hey, lay off!! She's just trying to do her job!!--Worley defends SUV purchase while laying off five employees

The Associated Press

MONTGOMERY - Secretary of State Nancy Worley, ordering employee layoffs at her agency because of state budget cuts, defended the purchase of a sport utility vehicle for her official use.

The $30,275, V-8 powered 2003 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer model SUV, which included $7,831 in upgrades, is nearly three times the cost of an air-conditioned Ford Taurus the state pays $11,881 for at the same Huntsville dealership where Worley bought the Expedition, The New York Times regional newspapers reported.
Gee, what's everyone complaining about?! I mean, it's not like she got the Paint Protection Package--everyone knows that's a scam.
State Finance Director Drayton Nabers, who had twice turned down Worley's request for an expensive vehicle, according to Riley's press secretary, approved the purchase on Sept. 23, records show.
Third time's the charm, eh?
Worley said her budget was cut $258,000 for the 2003-04 fiscal year, an amount she had to absorb by firing employees. So far, she's laid off five people.

She said the $19,000 difference between the Ford Expedition and a Ford Taurus wouldn't have saved anyone's job.
Yep, but it might have saved yours if you had thought just a few more seconds before slapping the ol' Jane Hancock on the papers.

No matter who or what $19,000 could or could not have purchased, with the state in a budget-cutting mode, this is extraordinarily ill-timed and ill-advised, if for no other reason than the appearance of callous disregard for employees and taxpayers.
Worley, a Democrat, was elected in 2002 and succeeded two-term Secretary of State Jim Bennett. He drove a full-size Crown Victoria that Worley's office inherited.

Worley said her office's vehicles were high-mileage and she felt they weren't dependable. Worley also said her office got rid of a van so the Expedition serves both as a van and a car for her.

Worley told newspapers she needed a vehicle the size of the Expedition because it can haul both equipment and her staff to voting seminars. Otherwise, she said, they would have to take two vehicles.

She said she "personally" doesn't like the Expedition because it rides like a truck. "But it's one we're having to use to haul boxes of voter material by virtue of having to go to a lot of places where we take computers and equipment," she said.
See!? It's not even if she even likes it--it's really a burden, you know.

And the financial decision is surely backed up by a cost-benefit analysis--some kind of statistical proof, right? Something that shows that whatever method of transport Pre-Expedition, it was vastly more expensive and cumbersome than a nice cush Eddie Bauer, right?
Worley said no other acceptable vehicle was on the Huntsville Ford dealer's lot the day she looked. "I waited so late to start looking for a vehicle I had to buy what was on the lot," she said.
Oh. So she just had to buy whatever they had. Man, that is so tragic. Imagine the pain. The suffering.

"Well, Madame Secretary, we have this luxurious Taurus wagon, and this lush Windstar minivan, and this luxo Explorer; but I know you, in your selfless dedication to serving the taxpayers of the State of Alabama, would not want to cloak yourself in one of those terrible, luxurious, vehicles, but would rather want to make the ultimate sacrifice of having to drive around in this large, truck-like Expedition, with all of those horrible Eddie Bauer accouterments that make public service so difficult."
She meant that she started late in the 2002-03 fiscal year to look for a vehicle that had been accounted for in her office budget for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

"None of that money from the 2003 budget would have carried over," Worley said. "We would have simply lost it."
Yes, the horror. The horror.

I think I speak for all of your fellow citizens by saying thanks for staving off this loss. Remember, tax money belongs to YOU, not to taxpayers--if you got too much, then by all means, go out and by gold-plated turd scrapers if you have to, but whatever you do, DON'T LOSE IT!!
State agencies have to return unspent money at the end of the fiscal year, which encourages them to spend it all because they don't automatically get the unspent money in the following year's budget.
Well, we'd just go waste it on food or rent or something.

Well, now--Boy lost, Auburn lost, but I made a big pot of chili, so things aren't all bad. AND, I got that handy extra hour this weekend which I wastefully squandered by snoring through it.

Longish sort of weekend, the mindlessly boring details of which will be coming to you in a just a bit, once I get through with our Monday staff meeting and get through typing it all up--it will be full of Chili Fixins, Stupid Runners, Long Way to Drive, Searching for Breakfast, The Painter Comes By, My Date With the Ravishing Allis Chalmers (and Wow! Does My Butt Vibrate!), Antichronometricism, Staying Awake--Parts I & II, Never Eat Tepid Chinese Food Late at Night, and Junk Like That.

So, stay tuned.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Time to go do something

Namely, go home. Then turn around and head back up the soccer park to watch Boy practice. Was up there last night, too—it was one of those jam-packed Thursdays with Oldest having to play at the football game, and Middle and Youngest having practice. And having practice at two separate places.

And to top it off, I had to schlep someone else’s kid to the park with me.

You know, I really didn’t mind doing it, but I think if it was a choice of asking someone else to chauffeur my kid or just asking the coach if my little darling could leave a bit earlier than normal, well, I would just get my own kid and drive him myself.

Anyway, Catherine got finished waddling around, and we packed her and Bec and our other passenger aboard and headed over to the regular soccer park, where I sent Middle girl on to her group and ordered the Tiny Tot and me some food. We sat there and finished it, then she wanted to go play on the playground. I threw away all the litter and grabbed my folding chair and we started walking down the sidewalk. She was happily humming along and skipping, and then started singing a song. I wish I could remember what it was now, but I was dumbfounded at the time because a) it was on key, b) it was on tempo, and c) it was a well-known classic rock song. I was just flabbergasted. I looked down, I guess with amazement, and she looked and grinned sheepishly. “That sure is a pretty song, Catherine. Where did you learn it?” “Ooooo, I don’t knowwww.” Weird. We don’t listen to any radio stations that play old rock, and even though I have an extensive collection of the finest 1970s 8-tracks, albums, and cassettes, I tend not to listen to them much. I guess she must have heard the song somewhere and liked it enough to learn it. I wish she would listen to me that well.

Anyway, Bec got finished late—they had a quick 15-minute scrimmage against the boys, which they won handily 2-0, then back home. Finally got to bed at midnight.

This weekend we have only a single game, for Jonathan, then it’s off to our fall festival at church where, if things go as they did last year, I will get to drive the tractor for the hay ride. Very relaxing. Nothing like sitting on a belching diesel Belarus to work out the cobwebs. (Although, I must confess I would feel better if it had a rollover bar.)

I also have that flat of pansies we bought two weeks ago to put out, and a pumpkin to carve, and probably a ton of other stuff to avoid doing.

I’ll tell you all about it Monday, and until then, have yourselves a great weekend.

Kutcher a 'surrogate dad' to Moore's kids

As well as a rilly kewl playmate.

You know, that hurt

I usually am a big strong boy, but today's bleeding at the hand of the barber was a bit much to take. And it took forever, too.

Filled out the normal set of a billion questions, then sat down to be poked upon by the same lady who was nice to me yesterday. She was still nice, but her first attempt, using a needle the diameter of sewer pipe, swung wide of my vein and just sort of gouged around in my muscle.

Ouchie. Do not squeal. Do not squeal. Do not squeal.

"I'm so sorry, sugar, I missed it--it was deeper than I thought. Are you okay?"


"And that's the first one I missed all day--but I guess that doesn't matter if it's YOUR arm!"

"OH, it's okay. Not bad."

Bad. Not okay. But what could I say--she was just too nice. She pulled the pipe out and jabbed me again, this time striking a gusher. Or so I thought. After what seemed like FOREVER, one of the other ladies came around and noted that the bag didn't seem to be filling up very fast. So she jiggered the conduit some more, which only hurt like having a large diameter metal rod moved around in your sensitive spots can hurt.

Do not shriek. Do not shriek. Do not shriek.

I finally willed enough fluid out of my body to finish filling my receptacle, so I was dutifully unplugged and bandaged and sent on my way.

Thank goodness they had Fig Newtons Tom's Fig Bars. I took two, doggone it.

Ready for some hot Tiger-on-Tiger action?!

Sounds like some of the spam I get, but in this case it can only mean that the Just Plain Old Regular Tigers of beloved Auburn University are set to be pounced upon by the BENGAL Tigers of Louisiana State University down in Death Valley.

As has been the case for 3 out of the past four weeks, Auburn will be taking on a Top Ten team, and 9th ranked, 6-1, LSU will be trying to make good on last year’s 31-7 drubbing at the hands of the OTHER Tigers. Auburn leads in the SEC West right now, with a 4-0 record, while LSU comes in with only one conference loss, to Florida.

The Plainsmen came out of last week’s game against MSU without anyone seriously injured, and with a ground game that seems unstoppable. Which is usually when someone gets all clever and finds a way to stop it. One of the bright spots is that although Carnell Williams has been a workhorse for the team, there is sufficient depth in the backfield, especially with players such as Brandon Jacobs who run just as well, that even if Williams is shut down, there is still an offense. (Jacobs actually rushed for more yardage last week than Williams, and his favorite food is gumbo.)

LSU does have Tiger Stadium going for it, a perennial pit of perdition for visiting teams. Intimidating as few other venues can be but, as when Auburn came to Neyland Stadium, it’s not something that the Real Tigers haven’t faced before.

One thing that they HAVEN’T had to face this year is the personality cult of the very stylish and pretty Nick Saban. I realize I am a hopeless throwback, but I find it hard to stomach a coach with his own website, especially when it drips with so much adulatory maundering. It’s just a little too…too, you know?

What then will decide this great contest? Obviously, only one thing. LSU’s cheerleading squad balances well against Auburn’s, and each share a common weakness of entirely too many guys on the squad. Where LSU DOES take a lead is in their Tiger Girls, which, though similar in name and function to Auburn’s Tiger Paws, have gone the extra mile with individual photographs!

SO, then, we now crank up the generator to the Possumblog Sports Center to find out what is our famously hotheaded Chief Sports Statistician Ipsa Dixie predicts as the outcome of this contest. Last week she did really good, coming in right around the mark. I attribute this to several things, although I would not be so bold as to take any credit. Especially since she made that comment about my brake lines. I just dropped by her office and managed to get her to stop reading John Derbyshire’s second National Review Online article detailing his trip to Alabama just long enough to for her to consult her charts and tables and statistical analysis programs to come up with her scientific prognostication. (Well, actually, she didn’t stop reading—I just placed a note on her desk.)

Anyway, she just now sent back a package of information packed into a length of steel tubing, which landed handily right beside my head, stating her belief that the final score would be…
Auburn 21 – LSU 17.

So there you have it. For those of you with cable, the game will be on ESPN at 6:45 CT. The rest of you can listen to it with me on the radio.

It being close to Halloween...

What better way to celebrate the season than by going and allowing some lab-coated, blood-sucking fiend to drain my vital essences into a plastic bag?

Going up to the Red Cross to donate some good ol' Possum Sweet Heavy Crude--I went yesterday during my lunch hour, but was a few minutes late for my appointment and the place was absolutely swarmed with folks donating. I waited as long as I could, but told them I would have to come back another day.

So, today was it.

The girl at the desk called back to the collection suite and one of the venipuncturists came out and told me it was going to be another fifteen minutes or so. She was very sweet, and told me if I couldn't wait, I could call and have them redo the appointment. We were standing right there at the reception desk, and I asked if they couldn't just do it there.

Seemed reasonable.

I thought she would ask the receptionist to call for me, but she just got the number and made the call herself. And got bounced around about six times. And put on hold. She made a little punching motion at the receiver and slyly looked at me--"You didn't see me do that!"

Oh yes I did, too! (Which is one of the reasons I didn't want to have to call.) Anyway, I expect an extra Fig Newton for keeping quiet about it!

See you in a bit.

And speaking of lacrosse...
[...] La Crosse [Wisconsin] Mayor John Medinger said Friday he was not aware of the new slang usage in Quebec until the Tribune provided him with online stories that Canadian newspapers published Thursday.

"These slang phrases come and go, and hopefully this one won't stick around too long," Medinger said. "I'm glad they'll continue (with GM's plan) to name Buicks after the game of lacrosse.

"I've always just associated the word ‘lacrosse' with the French game that we're all familiar with," Medinger said. The city of La Crosse received its name because French explorers observed American Indians playing a game with balls and racquets similar to the French game. [...]
Ah, yes, "the French game". Another useful new synonym, and as it turns out, highly accurate when used in the context of France's recent political machinations.

Air conditioner fire temporarily halts incinerator use

Mercy me, we can't have fire around the incinerator! Especially on the thing that make the air cold!

Commuter Woes

Okay, now I realize that riding your bicycle is a healthful activity. Really, I admire your 5% body fat, and your willingness to exercise out in the lovely sylvan countryside. But.

Mr. “I Just Bought a Bike and All This Bright, Shiny Spandex Crap So I Could Look Just Like Lance Armstrong (Excepting for Having Both Stones Intact)” was out this morning, pedaling his little heart out going toward Springville on Highway 11. As I’ve mentioned before, this is one of your old-timey, two lane, unlimited access U.S. highways built back in the long ago. The shoulders are narrow and uneven, and there is no such thing as an emergency lane—there is pavement, and forest. Or a giant mailbox. Or a tractor-trailer. And the speed limit is 55 mph. In other words, not quite the safest environment for someone on a pile of metal soda straws.

I had passed him as I was taking the kids to school, and on the way back down toward town, here he came, laboring along, BEING OVERTAKEN BY A SCHOOL BUS. Which decided that it would be better not to hit Mr. Bikey, BUT TO PULL OVER INTO MY LANE. A busload of schoolkids, on the wrong side of the road.

All for an—I’m sure a very nice, robust, monetarily secure—IDIOT who can’t quite figure out that with all the other streets and roadways in the area, there HAS to be a better place to ride at 7 in the morning. If there’s not, maybe it would behoove you to go earlier, or later, but rush hour ain’t the time.


On then to go fill up the van. Pulled into the Racetrac station (where they do not lac for snacs, and when the guy bends over to get a sac, you can see his crac), filled up and went inside to pay. I had to get my breakfast, you know—Diet Coke and pig-flavored air—so I picked up those, and decided to also get a copy of Old Car Trader for something to look at when I went to the soccer park tonight.

Plopped all that on the counter, and as the guy rang it up, I felt someone walk up to my right rear.

“What you in the market for?”

I turned to see a youngish guy had moved up beside me—short, scraggly, ball cap, checkered shirt unbuttoned all the way down, white wife-beater underneath, with a nice patch of lichen crawling up out of the neck hole.

“Aw, nothin’. Just lookin’ at the pictures.”

I’m sure he was just being friendly.

Friendly in that way of those guys who want to talk to you while you’re standing at the urinal.

One of the Man Rules is that you don’t talk at the urinal—stand close, stare straight ahead, flush, go. Talking once you get to the sink is okay. Marginally. If you’re like really good friends. Otherwise, that’s out, too. The same thing goes, or should go, for standing in line to buy stuff. Normal guys just don’t scan your purchases and then try to strike up a conversation about them.

“You like trucks?”

Aw, gee whiz—I am TRYING TO LEAVE, little creepy crazy dude.

“Ah, well, yeah, I guess.”

He got me all befuddled, and I handed the cashier my debit card instead of my credit card, which meant I had to stand there more precious seconds, and he kept mumbling something.

“’Cause if you want a truck, you know, I got all kinds. I got every decade model of Shivolay back to 1935, you know. That’s what I do, you know.”


He kept right on halfway mumbling to me, to himself, to the line of people behind me.

Finally got the receipt and grabbed my bag of loot and headed on out to the van, half expecting him to follow along, but thankfully he didn’t. I did notice he drove off in an ancient Nissan Maxima.

Go figure.

So, what’s with this book thing?

Oh, you know, as I said, sometimes I think odd things.

I don’t think there’s anyone who writes a weblog who doesn’t have some idea in their mind that they could make the leap to ink on paper. I’ve thought about such silliness before, and then the other morning as I was driving along to work after dropping the kids off at school, I got to thinking about the Toothbrush Stories.

I’ve obliquely mentioned these before, but the whole story is that Catherine has to be wrenched out of bed each morning and is usually in a foul mood. I shove some pants and a shirt on her, some socks (which usually match) and her shoes (which always stink) and brush her tangle of curls—all of which conspire to make her even more bothered. Then it’s time to go brush teeth, which, given all the past moments of disputation, is not always as easy as it should be.

I shovel her toward the bathroom, and remind her that Dr. Nancy doesn’t want all of her teeth to get holes in them, so she has to brush them really, REALLY good. With which she occasionally does not wish to comply. So, one day I offered to tell her the story of Catherine and the Three Cavity-Prone Bears (which included a side plot of head trauma caused by leaping out of a window, as well as a thrilling epilogue of being eaten by bears). She listened intently as she vigorously scrubbed her teeth.

So was born the idea of an ongoing series of improbable tales along the lines of Fractured Fairy Tales, mixed with a large dollop of Burying the Cat, swirled in a cup of good, hot joe, and raging fear of dental equipment. The stories, after all, are usually centered on a protagonist who has either very poor, or very fastidious, oral hygiene.

They usually have some contemporary popular culture elements, like the time Britney Spears was devoured by a wolf (which was okay, because he brushed afterwards). They are improvisational, and I make no effort to explain various excursions into obscurity, such as who Rita Hayworth is, and why she keeps turning up in the stories; nor what a Van de Graaff generator is, and what use it would have to a magic frog. It doesn’t seem to matter one bit, though—she will mockingly protest, “That’s not the way the story goes!” when all the king’s men go to the barracks and wash their hands after touching the filthy, salmonella-laden Humpty-Dumpty—but in the end, she does get her teeth brushed, and winds up in a decent mood.

The question is, is there a way to condense all that down into something that anyone would actually WANT in their house, much less as something to read to their children? Hence the questions yesterday about anyone who has done any of that book stuff. It’s just an idea right now, and I have zero knowledge of what all actually goes on, other than you get an $8 million advance.

And thanks to those of you who had something to say—yes, Vachon, I do incorporate persons I know into stories. Heh. BWUHHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!! Ahem—pardon me.

Jim Smith, nope, not a “great book” in the normal sense of “great,” which according to my MSWord thesaurus is synonymous with huge, immense, enormous, vast, large, big, grand. I see it being easily carried by no more than two persons using a hydraulic lift. As for the religious aspect, we might have a story or two about Moses playing in the sink, parting the water with his toothbrush. Maybe one about Rahab the harlot, who kept a pretty big supply of spare toothbrushes. One of my favorites is the story of Jael, who spiked Sisera’s head to the floor with a tent peg, although that one’s hard to work into a kid’s story about brushing your teeth.

And many thanks to Dave Helton, who left a comment as well as sent me a very nice e-mail, which contained lots of helpful advice AND positive reinforcement. I live for constant positive reinforcement, you know.

Anyway, that’s what that was all about.

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