Kenny Smith | blog

Monday, October 31, 2005

Why is Dubble Bubble always about nine days beyond the expiration date? This stuff gets harder to chew every year. Still lasts the same satisfying 15 chews, though, as my annual and obligatory Halloween taste test reaffirms. There's a lot of security there. Some items, like the venerable Chocolate Soldier are recalled more fondly by tastebuds than by memory.

I've apparently forgotten when kids come by trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. Got something of a late start, but lots of candy. No children. Not the first one. I was home before 7. Four bags of fun-sized candy bars to tempt me.

Saw a lot of little children in the grocery store parking lot. Its a new store, in a new chain, fronting a new subdivision. Maybe the neighbors don't know each other well enough to send their little ones looking for loot. The cool regard over lawnmowers, perhaps, hasn't yet manifested itself into the warm welcome of barbeque invitations. Then again, some people don't need invitations. One friend says their daughter, new to the nuances of Halloween, knocked, waited until the door opened, offered the "Twick or tweat!" and walked inside.

Random treats Maybe, if this works other licensing deals will be struck. I'm holding out for Pac-Man, Galaga and Pole Position. Found this Einstein treat today. Lastly, another Outside the Beltway honorable mention.

The gum is done, so am I.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

This was the weekend of comedy. Bill Cosby last night and Paula Poundstone at UAB tonight.

Second row seats for this show. A feat achieved only because of a carefully placed flirt with a box office attendant weeks ago. The only regret was that perhaps Cosby should have been the Sunday night show. Somehow it seemed that his should have been the keynote appearance.

Poundstone does an entirely different style of comedy, and she wasn't overshadowed. Remember her from the 80s? She's developed a harder edge, unafraid to make jokes on her own legal problems:
I'm an alcoholic single working parent of three with a felony record, 10 cats, a stupid dog, an old rabbit, a lizard; I'm not the ideal renter.
She isn't pulling any punches on herself. She's still working the crowd. Her observations are as wry and well composed as ever.

She says she only tours about eight nights a month now, but if you can see her, go.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Not the best game ever, but a 27-3 tune-up against Ole Miss is what we got. The offensive line looked a bit sluggish, others played better, despite a stout Ole Miss defense. John Vaughn kicked well.

We move on to Kentucky and then Georgia, needing to win out and some help to make it to Atlanta. All that's doable. Perhaps the "getting some help" will be the most difficult part. Alabama has to beat LSU in two weeks for that. Time will tell.

Ladies and gentlemen Bill Cosby.

We head to Samford, having prevented a few of their own students from seeing their homecoming highlight. The Cos is in town. He walks out about 10 minutes late, relaxed in sweatpants. Riffs on the captains of the victorious Bulldog football team for 15 minutes, including a graduating senior who has no major.

He runs the players off, sits down in a big leather chair and begins a two hour talk. He tells family stories, some of them prepared and some as tangents, his face and thoughts contorting themselves in mid-thought changes of directions.

He's spinning stories and spinning yarns even as he blows his nose. This is overlooked; its Bill Cosby. (Yes, I cheated, snuck in a camera and took pictures.) He's telling family stories, this is a Baptist college after all, and all of it is new material. You've been invited into this man's home, however embellished, and Uncle Bill is telling you all the anecdotes that have accumulated since you visited last. Now only if this were an annual Halloween weekend tradition.

Somewhere along the way the realization sets in: I'm in the presence of a master. The slightest look earns guffaws. He closes with a rapid re-telling of his classic dentist tale.

This is a show one might dream about, but never expect to realize. A happening. A great night, from the walk up to the theatre to the walk back down the hill. The type of experience that adds the anticipation and the memory to the valley.

Thank you Mr. Cosby. Thank you Samford. A special treat, indeed.

Only wish he'd shared the chocolate cake story.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Completely dropped the ball yesterday. Wanted to do my part and actually show up in the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three for a change.

"Name the THREE most idiotic things you've ever done to prove yourself against the forces of Mother Nature."

Number three: Camping. December 23rd, 1993. Nearly flu-ridden already, it seemed to be a good idea to go into the woods. A friend, his brother and I took the trip. Fortunately the little brother is a pyromaniac and delighted in building great fires. The next morning I wake up to hear my friend, off over the next hill yelling back, "Hey guys! The pond's froze over."

But wait! There's more!

Number two: I used to chase tornadoes as part of my job. No further comment is needed.

But wait! There's more!

Number one: Hurricane Opal. The fall of 1995 I was a college freshman. The hurricane takes aim and strikes the Florida panhandle as a Category 3, and then a Category 4 storm. At noon on Wednesday the University canceled classes. I learned this from a note on a lecture hall door. Also reading this note was a cute little blonde. Since we no longer had class, I naturally took her to lunch.

Meantime, my roommate is frantically and vainly looking for me. He's taped up the windows to our place, ruled out an escape route home (he and I lived in the same direction and the major arteries were gridlocked). He found solace in a friend of a friend's place across town, leaving me a barely decipherable scrawl to call this number. Figure that out, get directions, crisis averted. Right?

Then Opal, still a major hurricane, strikes our beautiful college town (180 miles inland). A tree actually lands on the all-brick home where we are staying. We're up all night listening to one of the two stations still broadcasting. Somewhere after midnight they went away from music and started taking calls on damage.

"Uhh yeah," began the most memorable, "I was at a hurricane party at Gentilly and this tornado came and turned the place over."

Well great. Gentilly was my home, so now we think we're homeless.

"I had to climb out of the side of the place," he continued "and ran down the hill to The Quick. And there was shingles and stuff hitting me on the ... on the ... on the ... well, not the shin, but the back of the shin."

We go to school with this genius? Get on with it man! Tell us how bad it is over there!

"So now I'm down at The Quick and uhhh ... could you play some Hank Williams?"

We finally made it back across town the next day, relieved to see that our home was bracketed by three trees. One fell in the front, one in the back and one to the side (and that one onto a neighbor), but none had fallen on our place.

And for quite some time after my roommate delighted in telling the story of how I was asking for, and receiving random dates during a storm that would be blamed for nine deaths in the U.S. and cause $3 billion dollars in damages.

That was more than a little stupid, but I earned an undeserved reputation out of suave moves like that.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The weather is beautiful, still for a time. Highs flirting with the 70s, the sun showing a grin unknowing of the coming shift to cooler weather and shorter weather. Daylight Savings comes this weekend, and we're all suddenly very aware of the need to enjoy the good weather while it lasts.

While it is true that we'll intermittently enjoy fine weather for another month or so, we've received reports of snow earlier this week from Pennsylvania. Our friends in State College, saying goodbye to pleasant weather, have urged me outside.

Today is the nicest of niceties, incorporating the fear of winter with the profoundly decent chunk of time I have between work and class. So I walk. Chose a route today littered with ghost signs. Somehow, many of the Birmingham signs are less legible than in other cities. Our signs are older, and often painted into a second meaning, take that America!

These signs are telling of history and nostalgia and mixed messages of the good ol' days, near and far. There's the Building of Wheat Foods, sold only in packages, five cents per. There's the sad old Liberty National building. On the top you can see the former perch of one of the largest replicas of Liberty in the world. her flame has for years now burned out in the land of the bypass. Even the proud torch on the side of the building, missing parts and lights and stripped of its dignity -- there's dignity in insurance -- is now also covered by a parking deck. Squat and coldly utilitarian, Birmingham's workers have a few more parking spaces, we have a once-proud torch that is largely forgotten.

There's the former A.C.E Speed Warehouse, now an unkempt office space. The old A.C.E place is now in a different part of town, but still there, determined to scare children, or possibly warn of the dangers of kidney stones, is the old logo. There's the odd vertical sign stretching up aspiring for the sky, or three or four varying identities. Cast Art is the most recent vintage. At least two other names begat it, but they are readable only in tantilizing parts. No one is home; Cast Art, apparently a pipe fitting business, has moved to the suburbs. One number listed no longer works, the recording suggests another number, but it goes to another recording. The mystery of what once was there persists. Just down the street, poking from the shadows is old signage from the R.D. Burnett Company. That's proud art from a more recent period, but the result seems the same. These are way down in the low blocks of Birmingham's Southside; there's no one home, nothing in the ether to offer a hint.

These places have history, and my investigatory skills aren't lacking, but rather rushed.

And then, the saddest site of the day. A plea from 1975. "Plese (sic) come home for Christmas," it says. I walked the entire block looking for a follow-up. There was a similar note scrawled in the cement down the side street, but no hint of whether Bee had a happy new year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

All over the place edition ...

Former Governor Don Siegelman is indicted along with former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in a wide ranging racketeering probe. The White Sox win the World Series. I fell asleep on the sofa.

So that, pretty much, should tell you that life is perfect and normal and harmonious beyond want or need of repair.

One of our debates at work has been the price of gas. I, with a minor in ecomonics and a miniscule idea of how economies work, have argued that we won't see it dip below $2.50 a gallon as we've demonstrated a willingness to buy it.

In that argument, for the sake of a cynical argument, I completely ignored a significant drop in U.S. demand. Ken, my boss, the MBA, who reads very dense economic things like I do history and politics -- for pleasure -- is sure that we will see the good ol' days of $2.25 gas again.

Maybe he's proving me wrong. The lowest station I see in my daily driving is now at $2.55. Saw one tonight for $2.49. Those are outliers, but trend, baby, trend! Prove me wrong.

Mexican food tonight. It had a cheese and a meat and some sauce and rice and beans, so it is Mexican. I love this inevitable conversation:
"What is Chili con carne?"

"Meat, cheese and sauce. The difference is all in the order that you add it."
The chips do not amuse, a lame joke must suffice. Someone bring me my flattened tortilla!

Let us all now remember a giant in the field. It was he who made frozen peas palatable. A booming baritone that saw generations of children through eating vegetables they didn't like has left us. Elmer "Len" Dresslar Jr. was 80. Here's a brief, but charming interview he gave a few years ago.

That little Minnesota company has come a long way in the last century. From a small canning company, to the fleur de lys, to rousing rebels when converting to a sweet corn in the Roaring 20s, before taking on the current brand name in 1925. After that the Giant got a little scary, holding the sun, and by appearance holding a farm hostage to his vegetable growing whimsy. He had a bad toupee back then too, but that's understandable; the 1930s weren't known for their good synthetic blends. Somewhere in the 50s the Giant settled down into the image, and soon the sound, that we all came to know.

Where might Pillsbury, the franchise owner, turn if they decide to go to a new slogan? Perhaps the Advertising slogan generator.

Carnival of Lileks is apparently on. We'll all try to emulate a man who's writing we admire very much. If you want to take part, send a note. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, look over to the left and start reading Lileks.

The goal is to write about your day (the first addition of the Carnival is planned for Tuesday, November 8th). Anyone that cares to can take part in both the writing and the hosting (we'll rotate that). The biggest rules are that the entry has to be about that day, the 8th, and there will be a deadline probably noonish on the 9th. All are welcome, everyone wins.

I pointed out to Ken, who dreamed up the idea, that he has an unfair advantage over me. Namely, three kids. He offered to let me have them for the day. The glint in his eye said, "We both win. You can write Lileksian metaphors, I can have a day to myself."

Carnival of Lileks: November 8th.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

And now we come to the part of the program where I convince you of how great life is because this is what I have to choose to fret about. I give you a conversation with a co-worker and fellow television science fiction aficionado:
Me: I know this has been keeping you up nights ... my Battlestar Season One Dvd left Montgomery late last night.

Brad: It has. Sweet.

Me: Now the agony of it is, when do I sit down and watch it? I'm gluttonous enough to want to do it all in one sitting. Its a tough life I have, apparently)

Brad: Do the ironman.

Me: I'd love too. Just blocking out the time to do so means three more weeks of waiting at best. And by then I'll be occupied with school stuff, so, alas, I'm tormented.
There's nothing to tell you how good you have it if you spend four seconds on something stupid like that.

This came UPS, so naturally I could watch the progress my package made, from Salt Lake City, Utah to Colorado to Lenexa, Kansas, to Montgomery and ultimately to my home. I wrote my step-father, a UPS pilot, to tell him of this technological obsession. He good-naturedly told me to get a life.

But I don't have to do that, I get Email! I got one too asking for a one word description of the sender. Sent it back and then decided to sucker my friends into doing it too. Forty percent of them, so far, have written back. Among other things, I am thought to be:
Clearly I was very selective of who I sent that too.

Once in a while I insist you read the full page when I make a link. This is one of those times. I've been reading Clayton Cubitt since just after Katrina landed. He is a photographer based in New York, born and raised in New Orleans. His family, in Kiln, Mississippi, has been devastated and has been on the bayou telling heartbreaking stories one at a time. Today, for his family, there is relief.
I soon realized it wasn't just their family that was reaching out to mine, it was the whole little town. It was the mayor, who's office was a golf cart under an oak tree at his nursery business. It was the local water company executive, it was the real estate agent, the insurance agent, and long-time family friends. They'd all pitched in for the effort.
One family, but an entire world. And that's the one Clayton is pulling you into, with the most compelling of stories.
The internet saved my family. My camera saved my family. I'm a high school dropout, but my writing saved my family. If this had happened ten years ago, my photos, my writing, wouldn't have saved anybody, because nobody would have seen it. It wasn't on CNN. It wasn't on the broadcast networks. It wasn't even on PBS. It was on a plain, small, free website, and that's the only reason Elizabeth saw it, and brought her family into the effort.
Go read it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday is cleaning day, except when it isn't. And, when it isn't, Monday turns into lounge around and fall asleep on the sofa day, spend an awful lot of time teasing other people day, having a sandwich and falling asleep in the middle of Monday Night Football day.

Class today and the library, of course, but both of which were half-hearted. The professor had a guest speaker. A gentleman I know in a job I know, so that wasn't terribly enthralling as far as class goes, but moreso comforting that I did the reporting thing right, back when I was employed to do that.

Delayed validation is sometimes the best kind.

What happens when one writes a hidden joke, known perhaps only to themself and one or two other people? If the skill is there to really bury a joke, hidden completely from view, what happens when you come back to that line a year later? We'll allow this to become the blame for every nonsensical thing you read here, thanks.

We'll incidentally blame Star Wars, the non-Han Solo parts, on this same thing. George Lucas was writing for his drinking buddies, or neighborhood kids or someone and it just became too much. Kind of like J.R.R. Tolkien, who really just wanted his children to go to sleep.

Which sounds like a good idea.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

There was waking up in time for a canteloupe and apple cider breakfast. It had been cold the night before and still chilly in the early morning hours. Something light and warm seemed the perfect treat. There was pretending to study in the afternoon. A delicious and half-heartedly nutrious tomato sandwich lunch. (I had milk! That helps.) There was laundry and football. There was steak and vegetables for dinner.

There was the Comedy Club to see Christian Finnegan. There was the obnoxiously loud table right next to ours with people repeating jokes, making their own and offering their own running commentary on God knows what. I was certainly pleased to learn that one guy sitting at that table hates his life. The people on our table were hating it too. The lady sitting next to me -- whom I did not know -- actually turned around at one point and prepared to hit one of them. I'm glad she thought better of it, though, because I was feeling conflicted about stopping her or beginning a brawl.

Thank you, Comedy Club, for doing nothing to curb the noise. Where do I go to get my 20 bucks back?

At one point Christian, just feet away, heckled their table in response. The drunken man sitting nearest to me, a faded and goateed Richard Shelby look alike in a bad neon green shirt, actually leaned in to ask "Why is he picking on me?"

Oh, I have a pretty good idea.

We exchanged more in-depth words after the show, but none of them were pleasantries. Mostly about how they, and we, missed a great show, but their continual conversation was absolutely riveting. Particularly the inner-office name dropping the ladies did at 130 decibels. We touched on how they embarrassed the rest of us at the show and how they perpetuate every myth ever dreamed up about this part of the world. Someone recommended a technique achieved only by those 15-feet tall and double jointed in the spine. Their social graces were a bit lacking. After two hours of their harsh just-down-from-Centerpoint accents ringing out over the 10 foot monitor just beyond their dull, alcohol numbed faces, that was a bit obvious.

I hope the entire table made it home safely. And that they have big hangovers to nurse in the morning.

Poor Christian had a rough go in our little Comedy Club this weekend. The Sunday night set was nothing like his Friday night experience. Yeesh.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Ahhh, Auburn football. How you've spoiled us so the last year-and-a-half. How quickly we forget the agonizing second-guessing that comes with watching an obvious win slip away.

How painful it is to know that a 200-yard back is in the backfield in overtime but we do not use him. How exasperated he must have been, averaging eight yards a carry against a defense that otherwise had allowed no rushing all season. How we wonder why we throw, instead, to our receiving corps, who have experienced the dropsies all day.

How the defense held all night, save one drive.

How utterly unrefreshing it is to hear Tommy Tubberville complain about his kicker missing kicks, when better play calling would change the complexion of the overtime period. John Vaughn did miss five. Five! And no one feels worse than him, poor kid, as he ran out there to drop an extremely long kick just short, three wide and his vindication thudding mutely off the upright through swirling winds.

How this keeps us buried in obscurity throughout the rest of this season. How it brings on the less desirable aspects of rivals' fandom.

How, how, how.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday, the perfect quiet day. Except for everyone feeling chatty. Lots of visitors by the desk today. The boss came by three separate times and discussed marketing and politics and a great idea.

We'll be making our own Carnival, much like the Carnival of the Capitalists, Carnival of the Vanities and Carnival of the Badgers you see floating around the blogosphere. There will soon be the Carnival of the Lileks. Details to follow.

Lunch today in a stripmall-type Chinese joint. The only thing authentic is the huge wok in the kitchen. Everything else is an austere white, which does nothing for decor, but allows for excellent echoes. So we fill it with laughter, by making fun of people that aren't in the restaurant.

Got my car back. It works. Hopefully for the duration. The plan, the goal, the dream, the wish, is for my car -- now with 203,000 miles -- to make it through graduation in the spring. Any time beyond that is a really nice bonus. If this most recent problem is finally fixed then I could be well on my way.

Pie day.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Beautiful day. High sun, light breeze, low 80s. I walked to campus from work. The car is in the shop you know. Thought I'd take a few pictures.

Turns out to be a two mile walk. If you did it smartly. I meandered. A warehouse here, a church there, old ghost signs over here. The south side of town is very historic. Not so much as the north side of town, which is historic and entering a phase of hopeful restoration. From Lakeview to campus though, there is plenty to see.

Warehouse. Torch. Church.

Look at those beautiful blue skies.

Auburn Family: Enjoy this hilarious parody.

Update: Mom says: I just watched the Auburn video clips you linked to your page. FUN-NY! I laughed out loud a couple of times ... and it requires a lot to make me laugh out loud at the computer! But then, now that I think about it ... it IS an Auburn clip series.

Thanks, Mom. I hope your team loses Saturday too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I have a thesis plan. At least the beginnings of one. Now all it will take is an act of Congress, the good will of some important people and an introduction by my advisor.

At least I have until the next semester to get it underway. Best not be too excited today, lest I overlook the three looming deadlines that approach with Christmas cheer. Not much time for thesis worries just yet, I have those concerns to be overwrought with concern about.

As things get underway I'll share more details of the thesis, if I am able.

I think my University's library steals books from other universities. Found myself surrounded on two sides by foriegn chemistry volumes from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They made a nice little fort for assorted sneakiness, these contraband books.

There was surely a legitmate purchase or bookswap, but surrounded by such serious reading it is best to be silly, just so no one gets the wrong idea about my academic pursuits. And so silly I was.

This was my view to the outside world while reading about the James Brady and Larry Speakes. Some days the view is more interesting than the book, some days the book has a better vista on the world.

I'm in a running debate about the nature of fall. For example, last weekend. Apparently some people can't get used to the notion that October should be this glorious. In a different time, these types of people would have been called carpetbaggers. Now they're merely misguided. We're growing on them though.

By contrast, two weeks ago in Indiana the arboreal rainbow was practicing for another dismally early, but breathtaking experience. Don't get me wrong this is beautiful scenery, but the first aria of October is a bit early for a concession to the inevitable.

The original purpose of November, after all, was a graceful slide into a chilly few months of introspection. October's grand design involved, and continues the tradition, of a gentle reminder of all that we have enjoyed lo these past eight months. October is a flirtatious bonus, speculating on a morning chill and delivering afternoon mercurial numbers to rival the spring. The leaves will let go and a wind will come from the far distant mid-western plains soon enough. For now, we delight in the even keel evenings and brilliant skies that define our splendor.

The cold will be here after this weekend anyway. That does no one any good. There will be no grilling out in 38 degree lows as currently forecast on Monday night. But, if that's the end of it, 24 blissful days in October are what I'll remember in January. Soon others in far away places will complain about their snows of March. And, as we write odes to blooms, we'll playfully remind them that they were proud to see 39 on their local bank sign on October 19th.

It's a small world. Driving through town tonight under a big and hesitant moon, watching the man push his big hunk of cheese, in full circular form, above the light pollution and out of the orange face into his traditional yellow-white tones, the need for salad was heard. Panera had not, after all, been visited in some time and the bistro salad is so tasty.

There's a little boy sitting across the way, munching with a great bitter-faced delight on his parents' pickles. Take a bite, scrunch up the cheeks, repeat. I take a few pictures and offer the family my card. Just a little "Thank you and send me an Email for a copy of these" that I always offer parents when they encourage their children to ham it up.

This young family, from the next county and four or five towns away, is the cousin of a co-worker's husband. The whole thing made the goodbye a little longer than you would expect -- or maybe that was because we left at the same time and had even parked next to one another. But, if I ever need Nextel, I now know a guy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Spent most of the afternoon at the mechanic's. Faced with another winter now cresting the horizon, and fears of cold-start, no-start at 5:30 in the morning, I've finally reached a point to be concerned loudly enough to get this addressed. The theory was, and proves accurate, that there's a power drain somewhere.

To make the long story (entertaining only if you knew the backstory, which is even longer) palatable, we'll just get to the point. I'm losing 12 volts, being sucked from the battery. Park it for more than a day, I get zilch.

My car guy walking back out to the car with me, says "What's wrong with your trunk?"

I explain it was an accident from last summer. Got rear-ended. No real cosmetic damage. Slight sore neck for a day, everything worked fine except for the button that opens the trunk door.

"That could be part of your problem," he says, reaching in to grab at the trunk light, which promptly removes three layers of skin from his thumb and index finger.

We finally get that off to discover that the filament is slowing burning through the glass in this low wattage bulb. Apparently the contact can't make a flush connection when the trunk is shut, stemming back from my (literal) run-in with Mallory. My trunk light is always on.

Now we only have to account for 11 volts.

So Thursday the car is going back to the shop for a more intimate setting. Because one needs that when dealing with car repair, particularly electrical work.

That story got rather long anyway didn't it?

A great way to spend your one free afternoon.

I'm so glad Boston Legal is now on Tuesday nights. Thank you ABC, I now have an appointment to keep. My unabashed love of Shatner is well documented (here, here, here and here), but there was a little something creepy about the ending with Candice Bergen tonight. Some imagery America does not need foisted upon us. Still, the intentional high-brow kitsch makes a great show.

Here's the moon. I took this one Sunday. Tried tonight to take one in the still of darkness. The moon was perfectly framed by ominously skeletal tree limbs, the crickets were in their full autumnal concert, the crunch of gravel underfoot was the night's loudest noise. The batteries in my camera died. Time for a recharge.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Talked with a Pulitzer Prize winner today. He's a colorful guy. Very nice, smart, as you might expect. Far as I know that's the first Pulitzer conversation I've ever had. Thought he'd have more to say.

But we're in the presence of greatness, and that's enough. Greatness in a bad blue blazer with cheap glinty brasslike buttons. He's ready for the Christmas season -- with a Kirkland's twist -- with his green, red and gold tie. Not sure how the maze print worked into that, but there you are. From three rows back, you can see the part that matters, his certificate of authenticity, the newsprint on his fingertips. His traditional newspaperman uniform is complete.

He's nursing a water bottle and fighting a gravelly voice. His umms and wide hand movements compliment each other when he doesn't stuff his paws into his pocket or onto the wall behind him. He's fighting a dry mouth moistening his lips and licking his teeth as he issues a call to action on the state's constitution. He's right, but he's blatant. He doesn't need literary devices, he's armed with chapter and verse.

I aspire to be Ferrol Sams. I always wanted to drive to Georgia, knock on his door and insist he write a two paragraph physical description of me, just because he does it so well.

Don't know that I'd be happy with the outcome, though. And that's why I don't do it as well either, avoiding traits that might make others uneasy, on the off chance that they ever found their way here.

"Hey, I have a tie like that ... "

Wouldn't that be embarassing?

Roamed through the library watching industrious young students bend their minds around things that won't matter to them the moment they get a deathgrip on their sheepskin. Am I being cynical?

School libraries are intriguing. One goes there to study. I, however, cannot. There are far too many interesting things to dive into than whatever a professor would have me study. Walking through a library is vastly different than sitting in one. Moving around seems almost out of place, surrounded by dusty volumes that haven't been moved in years, and students dreading a similar fate unless they can solve this organic chemistry conundrum.

Sitting in a library, that's different. I sat next to a window and read up on presidential press secretaries through the Carter administration. To the right the library world drifted and fuzzed and faded away. To the left was the outside world, almost fascinating in its busy quiet. And that was just a normal intersection. Libraries seem a lot more imposing when walking by rows of Portugese treatises likely carrying the dust of two continents, a constant reminder: there's a lot you aren't doing right now.

Wanderlust is bad enough looking out the window and into a mountain.

Wandered to CheeburgerCheeburger, but the Hoover franchise is closed. Funny, lots of openings on the news page, but no closings listed. Odd, that. Visited the only other one in town, on 280, and had a small burger -- see, even when I'm bad I am still eating a smaller portion.

I'm having cake this weekend, though, and I doubt that logic will hold.
Great day for football. Alabama looked flat but managed to eek out the win. I enjoyed that and benefitted from the win in the pick 'em game (where I now sit in third place). LSU trounced Florida, making them look less and less meaningful and, by extension, Alabama's thrashing two weeks ago.

USC and Notre Dame played a classic. Same kind of story for me here as in the Alabama game. Gene Wojciechowski got a little hyperbolic -- can goalposts really get goose bumps? Is that part of the anti-climbing defense? -- but he's right, maybe one of the greatest games of our time.

I could never bring myself to cheer for Notre Dame, between this:
The Trojans knew they had done something memorable.

So did Notre Dame's Weis. At exactly 7:15 p.m., Weis took several steps into the Trojans locker room and offered his congratulations.

"That was a hard-fought [bleeping] battle," said Weis, as the USC players shushed each other to hear the Notre Dame coach. "I just want to wish you good luck the rest of the way."
... and this now popular story, I have become a Charlie Weis fan.

The bulk of the second half of the Notre Dame game I spent dealing with the 21st Century purgatory on earth: Tech support from India. Never have I been so conscious of whatever accent I have remaining than when talking to someone on the Indian sub-continent. Got my way, so all is well.

And then it was time for the only game that mattered. The first half was more than a little unsettling. Had to put on the sweatshirt.



Bought this my freshman year on Iron Bowl weekend. Each year at the Iron Bowl I buy another ash grey sweatshirt. It became a private tradition, but this is the magical one. The one with a hole in the side ripped from Homecoming festivities one fall. The one that isn't soft on the inside any longer for a decade of use and cleaning. The first one I slip on each fall, just to have the satisfactory reacquaintance of hefty clothes with one so familiar. The one with all the wins stored inside. The one that will not be thrown out, lest there be war.

Worked too. 34-17. After being down at halftime. After Tubby showed his smarky side to his home state by saying at the half "We'll score a lot or none at all." Merry Christmas.

Up next, a showdown with seventh-ranked LSU.

Friday, October 14, 2005

It is a happy accident, being near windows as the orange glow from the sun -- either upon its arrival or disappearance -- casts its light on the walls.

I got that this morning when I arrived in the office. I saw it last night in class, with windows behind me allowing in beams from the west, making the lecture seem more palatable, but frustrating because I am missing a sunset for this?

Having seen it last night and this morning rounds off the symmetry of the night. It brings a calm and warm sense of completion to the week. A quiet Friday winding down, even from the start, capping a quiet week.

Hung banners at Race for the Cure. Had pie. This will now be an early night after two hours of snoozing last night.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Atticus came to visit. This was the event of the day. We'd been looking forward to this for a couple of weeks, waiting for his parents, Justin and RaDonna, to come back into town for a checkup. First time I've seen them since they delivered, so he was nice enough to drive the folks down.

Eleven pounds and change already. He's -- what? -- a month old and already into clothes for three to six months old. Huge hands. Kid's going to be a linebacker.

Lots more of those pictures to share at the end of the month. Atticus said I should also post them on his site, found to the left, so look there in the near future.

Far off into the future, Atticus will look back on these things, as all children do, and examine the evidence of his past. Herein lies the validation of your young existence: once you were even more dependent on your parents than you are now.

I did this again tonight in a few of the family albums I have in safekeeping. This is the order in which he'll consider these dusty digital tomes.
That's what my grandparents looked like?

What was Dad wearing!?

What's that big thing in the background?
Go back to that second picture. Fifteen or 20 years from now, what will that copier look like? What will he think of the archaic efficiencies of of the fax machine languishing, almost unused even now, in the background of other pictures.

These were the universal tools of an office in our younger days, minus the personal computer. "You worked on that?"

In my own pictures -- featuring a dapper blond lad -- I saw wall radiators and ancient appliances. There were cars three and four generations removed. Toys and furniture both remembered and a mystery. There were more floral shirts and outrageous collars than anyone would now care to admit.

Examining photographs like that is falling back into a parent's arms. Atticus should cuddle up nicely.

Good class tonight. I wrote this down: The professor conceeded a point to me from last week. Had to do with the question of "Can there be a perfect message?" Here we are talking about the sender and receiver(s) in complete harmony. He responded in the negative, I am a smart-aleck, these things can't be helped.

What about, I said after last week's class, FDR addressing Congress and the nation after Pearl Harbor? Or George Bush after September 11th? The perfect message does exist there, however briefly, owing to the context. The volatility of the audience, either the Congress or the nation in either circumstance, demands that the message can't last, but it does exist.

He gave me that one today. And then I tangled for 20 minutes in a debate with two ladies in the class about newspaper paradigms. That began as a conversation about bottled water. Because I have the innate ability to cram three separate thoughts into one breath, I should be blamed for all the tangents that take place.

Example: two people, on separate occasions today, each commented about how I seem to be getting trimmer every day. Look at that second picture one more time. Seems like it to me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Fog hung over the road tonight as my car whirred home close to midnight. The low-lying areas around the house really caught the ghostly vapors, trapped by the serious looking canopy of trees peering down. This is the first sign of autumn here.

But you wouldn't have known it from the afternoon driving through town. Nothing but short sleeves there, as it should be.

So there's late night fog and playoff baseball. That's the early fall here. I should have watched the Angels - White Sox game for the finish, but I somehow missed out. Otherwise its been a wisely used day. Got an oil change. Went to class. Spent some time reading on top of a big hill just before the sun went down. Tried -- and failed for want of software -- to install a printer. Got groceries, predominantly fruit, and everything else is healthy too. Don't know what's gotten into me, but it all seems very wise.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Return to the normal schedule and routine today. It is scheduled and routine. No classes, so home to think up excuses to not do errands and the like. Watched some baseball and not much else happened today.

New things happening around here, though. A new background on this page -- though one with an admittedly short life span. New look for the site. New colors and a new image. I think I like it. Random pictures being tossed about in the blog again. They'll all be of the pop open a new window variety. That'll, hopefully, make some of you follow links more often.

Speaking of which, there have been a few additions on the left side here in recent days. Some new blogs to check out, like Robert Prather, Beth Cleaver
Mick Ayers, Cassie Moore, Samantha Burns and Terry Matson. Jump on over from the left bar and visit them awhile, won't you?

One other thing to catch up on, movies from the weekend.

I, Robot:
Will Smith is good, though limited. This movie should have limited CGI.
Presumed Innocent:
Han Solo or Indiana Jones, yes, but Harrison Ford is otherwise useless.
So let's just consider today a website house cleaning, shall we?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Maybe my favorite part of the trip to the folks' home is the early mornings when I wake up before everyone else. Their den is surrounded by windows overlooking a gentle sloping hill that disappears into a creekbed in the woods. The house is perfectly quiet and the sofa is just the right amount of plush. Its one of those sinful moments of bliss to curl up in the corner and read.

This morning it was gray and cold, as predicted. Fruit got us started -- and that seems to be about all I want to eat any more, the previous day's pork chop sandwich notwithstanding.

We set out for a late lunch at Joe Huber's where I was struck by the business of the place in the middle of a weekday. You have to go to nowhere to get here, and lots of people, and their little children, decked out in overalls, are doing so.

There are pumpkins, hay bales, gourds multi-colored corn, kids on tractors. There was food I'm no longer interested in eating, though I did cave and have a bite of fried chicken, and it was delicious. There is a dearth of vegetables to choose from. Yankees apparently don't understand how a good Southern boy is supposed to chose his vegetable plate.

This is not turning into a diet blog, or even an all-food entry. I promise. Ride it out with me, won't you?

This is a family farm turned commercial attraction. The Hubers, three or four generations, still live on the land and they employ hundreds of people. There's U-pick areas, slides, rope swings (which I did not get to do and am very upset about), at least two gift shops, a catfish pond and more.

On the pond you can slingshot apples at targets. I wondered about how the catfish felt about this and about the merit of wasting apples. We launched a few and discovered they're all rejects from the apple orchard. Nothing goes wasted on a farm.

So then we went to the winery -- because they have a second gift store don't you know. The halloween decorations are out a-plenty, but they are in danger of being overrun by a host of animated penguins singing Holly, Jolly Christmas when you squeeze their flippers. One holiday at a time, please. I like to think Hallmark staggered them all out for a reason.

Went to the nearby retreat, walked half of the trail around the pond, taking pictures of odd berries and leaves. Before long it was time to get back on the plane and fly home again.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Fall always sneaks in late. The season that's trying to escape notice. At least that's the case in the South, where the first month of autumn serves as a bonus summer.

Here in the Ohio Valley, this is harvest time. The blue sky of today is being blown away by the winds coming off the river and from the west. Tomorrow it will be cold and gray and stay that way for several days. The first payment notice for another winter.

We don't have those at home in the South. Don't want 'em, don't need 'em, thanks.

But today, there's enough Rayleigh scattering to keep it blue. That allows for a nice trip into New Albany for the food and booth portion of the local festival. This is a walk into an 18th Century town made over after the war. The Reibel House still stands over the squat downtown area, its three story aspirations muted 120 years later. The limestone and pressed metal restoration is complete and reasonably authentic, as is much on the block. No longer a hotel, it is now occupied by a company that maintains high speed ferry services. Bet none of them ever spent a night in the old hotel.

Across the way there's an ancient sign for Jim's Gun Room. Analog time and temperature hands are frozen for Jim on his sign. At five after three it is 90 degrees. On the obverse it is either 140 or -60. (Who in their right minds lives in a place that recognizes the need for a thermometer that goes to negative 40?) Walking from one end of the store to the other must be a mind -- and thermostat -- blowing experience. And it has the look of having overnight guests. It has the look of being a place that Fort Knox holds some of their gold in busy months. The thick, blocky plaster walls are softened by a faded coat of pink. The pink swirls in the marble are at odds with itself. Everything, externally, about Jim's place seems a contradiction.

So do some of the foods at the festival -- the whole point of the excursion. OK boss, what if we take things that are bad for you and fry them? And then, we take things that are healthy for you and fry those too! The festival goers will love it!

I give you deep-fried cauliflower. Note the hat the gentleman in the right background is sporting. I smell a conspiracy of Halliburton proportions!

Oh wait ... that's the batter.

Couldn't bring myself to try the deep fried twinkies.

There was also "PORK ... CHOP ... SAMMICH!" That became the family cheer. You basically have five or six guys standing over reconstituted oil drums grilling pork chops by the dozens. Put that on a bun, dress it up, chomp and cheer. Somehow a "woof" got thrown into the chanting mix. It will become one of those legends of family lore recalled every third holiday and told to disbelieving young people. Tame as these things go, but in the moment it was as funny as the food was delicious.

Roasted corn: the boy scouts, for some reason, are better at this than anyone. You buy a big ear of Indiana's best, then comes the inevitable "Would you like butter on that?" The affirmative brings a nod of approval from some proud Boy Scout's father, who then wraps half a ream of papertowels around the folded down husk, inverts the delicious golden kernels into a vat of molten butter up to his elbow. Your prize drips down your fingers and chin for the next 40 minutes.

Our friends in Iowa and Illinois and Minnesota (the big three corn growers) will think it sacrilege, but the best corn is found in southern Indiana.

After watching the clowns "Balloonless sticks, guaranteed not to pop!" and "Jingle jingle jangle jingle!" and walking through hazy notice of grilled culinary fare we begin the annual Running Into People the Family Knows. It cracks me up how much I still get introduced. How many people does my family know in this place and how many of them are there left to meet?

There was The Monarchs still performing, 44 years later. With two original members even. We shall not mention their sequined, line dancing opening act. As the chill chased us off we saw more family friends for big thrice yearly hugs.

Following that was a brisk walk uptown to a haunted house, long on decoration, short on scary. Though they all seemed to know to pick on the sister -- she of that certain age to be scared witless, but understand the importance of posturing after the fact, just in case we hadn't heard her scream or glimpsed her slack-jawed fear. Lots of ghoulish girls. This one's going to be a great bride.

Hey, two pictures today. Plus the one from yesterday. (I'm thinking of frequently incorporating them into the blog again, though not replacing the monthly digest.) Not bad for you.

Friday, October 7, 2005

It is 6:30 and the plane isn't here. This has become a habit of late, even of the one cattle-herding airline that is swimming confidently above water.

All this have given me the chance to crack Who speaks for the President: The White House Press Secretary from Cleveland to Clinton. Picked this up from the university library on the basis of one reference found in a textbook. Breezy reading on the history of press secretaries. I'd expected a bit more analysis, but this will likely get me in the right frame of mind for the semester's rapidly approaching papers.

How's this? Plane's late, get to Louisville, Mom's late. No one to pick me up. I'm left to shop at the airport's PGA giftshop for things no one buys. Who goes to SDF and thinks I really could use a new trouble wedge for my short game? Place has been there for years and the only use I've found of it is watching the trick shot videos on the big screen.

It is a weekend of fun, food, family and frivolity. Minus so much food. Harvest Homecoming in New Albany this weekend, which means fresh roasted corn and pork chop sandwiches. Pardon me if I indulge a bit.

Tonight, however, is fairly low key. Even Joe's Crab Shack was sedate. Sitting on the river Ohio, even the quirky kids that work there could feel the first cool snap blowing in. Already they shudder at the reminiscence of last year's attack from Mr. Jack Frost. No one seems eager for that just yet. I just got here and already its too cool.

The brother is home from college doing post-high school things. The step-dad is off in Seattle working. He'll return tomorrow. I'll stay up late talking with Mom and generally goofing off and then read myself to sleep.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

What remains of Tropical Storm Tammy is taking pokes at us. She's sliding in to feign a jab, but doesn't offer much of a punch. She's darkened the day, made it longer and shifted thoughts months ahead.

It looks like it should be cold outside. The back of the eye and nerve centers in the brain are in disagreement. I should bundle with comfort food, but the rain is a poor chilling agent today. One arm got caught out of the umbrella, but I hardly noticed.

I was too busy looking at the drops of weater falling into standing puddles. The droplets are forcing their companions into panicky ripples. Dihydrogen oxide is scared of itself. The ripples expand out evenly in every direction until energy or surface area are exhausted. Aristotle would say these aren't circles, but rather constructs or approximations. Aristotle, the first hippie.

Very few people know that. He took a week off from his academy -- the first spring break -- went East, had a party with the Hindus, hithced a ride with some Zen masters and staggered on home. Centuries later someone who lived on Haight and Ashbury crossed the Pacific, made a deal: far-out thinking for sandwich technique. Tie-dye was the inevitable conclusion.

Dinner tonight at Surin. The end of class for the week, early start to the weekend celebration. I, of course, had on the blue shirt signifying I work here. I don't. Makes it very difficult to get sat some days. And, no, I won't check on your sushi. Seems like I always have the blue shirts on when I eat there.

Sat next to the window and watched the parade go by. There's a club down the street and the people there don't wear a lot of clothes. And some of them have really bad taste. Or an overly ambitious concept of how they look in that skimpy little number.

It left me feeling old; normally I would assign them personalities, but it became repetitive -- and unflattering. I toyed with the idea of running outside and asking one woman what she charged. It was that bad.

Food was good though.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

The days are getting shorter. Evenings are becoming magicians displaying tricks that have never ceased to wow. Daylight: now its here, now its gone.

Walk indoors for 20 minutes and then head out again for dinner and it is an entire alien environment. This is a season of mental tricks. Is it hot out there or merely warm? Muggy or dry? Stifling rain or chilly? These are plan-altering differences and intrepid young explorers of a meager ilk would wilt under such volatile changes. Someone should write a song about that. Maybe a Real American Heroes song.

I used to write parodies of those. Mostly on childrens' drawing paper at restaurants. (It makes the girls laugh.) I'd consider starting again just to put them here, but in searching for my favorite Real American Heroes link I see that Annie-Busch made all those guys take their music down. That is within their creative rights, of course, but a Marketing1.0 error. A recurring place people can be entertained by my commercials (hosted by my fans, for free) to sing amongst their friends (because they are entertaining) or be reminded to buy more of my product (because they are commercials? Show me where to sign up.

Discussed media consultants in political campaigns today. These are the folks who produce the ads you see that you grow to hate each fall. Nothing like the crispness of turning leaves, football and negative attack ads to fill up your senses. The kids are back in school, we have to fight over something!

Some classmates ears perked up when hearing how the media consultants are paid. The basic element is they are walking away with a percentage -- usually 10 or 15 percent, depending -- of the ad campaign. Latch on to a candidate with two million for commercial spots you get 200,000 for a few months of work.

Months of exacting, can't please anyone, micromanaging the smallest detail, make an investment in Pepto work. No thanks, go right ahead guys. There's plenty of other stressful roles to fill in life.

I figure, though, that I should corral some of my young and hungry media/communications friends and start a ground-up firm. I can pretend to know about the radio and the internet. We'll find a print and a teevee tie in, maybe a genre of communication or three. We'll work late into the night finding the right permutation of last names so it sounds like a law firm ringing through your ears as you stare at a faux marble bas relief sign in some swanky high-priced office downtown.

Dream big, kids.

I did have a great business idea though. The mono-focus group. Let's pretend your office is consumed by mission creep. Direction is lost and management is spinning its wheels. Meetings become one frustration after another, causing the blunt force trauma of cranium-to-desk for the minions. An aspirin the size of the clock employees are continually staring at would have previously been the only cure.

Until now.

Imagine, a caustic know-it-all outsider, unafraid to call an idea an idea and crap crap. Unhindered by the liberating knowledge, Hey, this guy isn't my boss, this protagonist is an independent third party unconcerned with telling the boss that he's kidding himself. You need to keep your paycheck, but work -- some work, any work -- needs to get done. You call the Meeting Busters.

Could be something to that.

No kids myself, obviously, but I love reading my friends' kid blogs. You can too in the links to the right, of course. Lileks -- not, unfortunately, my friend (but I'd love to hang out, call me!) -- is showing off his daughter. (And check out that commercial he has linked beneath the pics. Wow.)

I've been trying to convince my co-worker, Brian, to change one of the recent posts on his blog, just so his daughter won't hate her parents in 15 years.

Always meter yourself for posterity, friends.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Thank you George Carlin. It is from your proddings that I've developed my sense of humor. It was very thoughtful of you to draw me over the line of socially acceptable comedy. Only I didn't realize, until tonight while watching The Aristocrats, that I realized the debt I owe you.

Very few people will be able to tolerate that movie. Somehow, I know lots of them. There really is something to that old saw about how you can tell a lot about a person by their friends.

Maybe I should worry about myself. After all, I emerged halfway confident I could reach the 30 minute challenge. Maybe the next time I have to drive a long distance I'll give it a shot.

Another time waster: a small group of people have now decided to sign their Email with an honorific and every degree they can muster. My first round was completely legitimate.

Mr. Kenny, B.S. agricultural journalism, minors: economics, communication, theatre, photography. M.A. communication management (pending)
Tomorrow I'll add other little notes and awards and biographical tidbits.

I knew a guy who did this in college. He had the greatest signature file ever, spattered with fictional things he'd done "Author, the great American novel, climbed Mount Everest, three-time international table tennis champion."

By Friday, I fear, I'll have devolved to this. Pray for me.

Had ice cream tonight. Temporarily derailed my good healthy eating, though I'm convincing myself that the asparagus (which I love) balances it out. Very good, but too much.

Monday, October 3, 2005

The sky was wide open on the drive home tonight. The sun was gone, with the melancholy of a friend who just recently left filling up the vacant space. My drive was after the sun went down, but before the stars and dark clocked in. The clouds were dark poofs of cotton in the sky, sopping with iodine, dripping into the horizon.

And there was a lot of that tonight. A common route home, curves and sites and the feel of the road long ago memorized. This particular evening the sky stretched out forever. There was an implied infinity, even beyond the silhouetted tree line.

There's nothing metaphorical or witty that follows, it was simply an interesting experience on an otherwise normal ride home, which concluded an otherwise perfectly normal and wonderful day.

Outside the Beltway gave me third place in a caption contest this week.

September pictures are finally up on the pictures page. They are football heavy. And the last few are funny inscriptions on fundraiser bricks at Vulcan Park.

There was, once, an entire thought on my Vulcan experience last week. But the fever (that started the next day) ate it.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Our team won again, handily beating a mismatched South Carolina. Best part of the game was easily Spurrier laughing at his team during his halftime interview by the television crew. Watched that over and over.

Saturday's fine sports overload was capped with brunch and gorging on dollar movies.

The Longest Yard:
Hate Michael Irvin; nice to see him "play" again. Good dollar movie.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith:
Fun. Goofy Pitt: good. Joline's purpose is obvious. Vince Vaughn: great. Fun.
So was my weekend. And, happily, I recovered from my bug or food-poisoning (or whatever that was) in time to enjoy it.

Also, I've lost a pants size. One more of those and I'd be scrawny again.