Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chris Isaak, Stacy Mintz and Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits.. with Idol Results!

As always, if you are reading this on Facebook, you'll have to go to the actual Clouds website to see the videos. Besides, its better reading over there anyway. Go ahead. Click here and take the plunge. Do it. Do it.

First... I just crossed 21,000 hits on Clouds in My Coffee. That's not one person clicking 'refresh' 21,000 times, that is someone actually going to my website and pulling it up 21,000 different times. SO THANK YOU, Coffee Drinker and Constant Reader. It makes me happy when I see the comments, whether I agree or not, and to hear the feedback to something I've written... keep coming back, and let's move to 50,000!

I'm trying to figure out what to do for my 500th post... a recap? A best of type blog with links to my favorite posts? Just make it something random? Any thoughts?

Secondly... at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) I stood amongst a small group of Godly Mamas.... Stacy M (married to James, arguably the 13th disciple), Robyn Meredith (its hard to trust a woman with two first names...), Cindy Jo and a few select others, and in that conversation not only did we discuss "Rock of Love" and "Rock of Love Bus", but The Ambiguously Gay Adam, Cougars, the bandwagon for The Widower Danny Gokey driven by Emmy Turnbow, with fellow passengers like Stacy and Cindy Jo (though Cindy Jo has been caught with a wandering eye over at The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen)... and also in that conversation, we discussed "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak. One of the sultriest, coolest, hottest songs ever. With the video to match.

Fun times in that Marky Mark (spouse of Cindy Jo) and myself actually got to sing the first verse of the song to spur memories... finally, Stacy and Robyn both go, "Oh yeah! I know that!" So here's the song in its true form...

I would feel utter conviction if I thought Stacy M would look at the actual video itself and it was my fault. That video is downright Cinemaxy, though with today's tv standards, most youngsters would probably be ho-hum about it. So here's Chris Isaak, doing a performance of the song on Letterman's show in 1991.

Third... I stopped by Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits tonight for dinner. I only mention this because I'm really disturbed by the fact that Popeye's, of all places, has followed the "let's have a fancier name so people will think more highly of us" trend that is sweeping our country. They are now called Popeye's Louisiana Grill. No, you are not a Louisiana Grill. Perhaps you do serve salads now. Maybe you do serve shrimp now. But I've never heard a single person say to me, "Ya know, I'm really excited about having Popeye's Shrimp tonight", or even "Ya know, I do love me a salad from Popeye's." Never.

Why? Because no one wants your salad, Popeye's. I want salad, I'll go to Jason's Deli. No one wants your shrimp. I want bad processed shrimp, I'll take in Captain D's, or Long John Silvers. There are two things that people, myself included, want from you, Popeye's. The first is chicken. The second is biscuits. That greasy chicken dripping off of that spork, combined with the soft, buttery fattening taste of that lukewarm biscuit... number one, baby, number one. Popeye's, YOU ARE CHICKEN & BISCUITS. That's all you'll ever be. So be proud of it.

So, Idol results are on tonight, aren't they? My friend MZ texted me a few minutes ago, saying "Oh my gosh! [The Ambiguously Gay] Adam Lambert is in the bottom two?!?!" I had to immediately reply to ask her not to tell me anything else. The Lovely Steph Leann is out in the garage, with our friend KT, sanding and staining shelves and a desk that will go in The Lovely Steph Leann's crop room. Why am I not helping? Neither one asked me to. Why didn't I offer? I can't do woodwork. And I'd rather watch Idol. If The Lovely Steph Leann popped her head in the backdoor and said, "Hey, can you help?" I'd be up in a heartbeat, and would go and assist. But she hasn't, so I won't. So there.




Skipped past the Ford commercial, and as I typed the "THIS IS AMERICAN IDOL", I almost watched the group song! Don't worry, I hit the >> button quick enough, I only heard two beats of a guitar before it started forwarding. Whew, that was close, though.

Luckily, not only will we (not) see Taylor Hicks and Natalie Cole, but also Jamie Foxx, which means this will be a short show. Lots of forwarded tonight.

We do see a video montage of the Idols making cakes as My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta turned 9 this week, while The Widower Danny Gokey turned 48. Happy B'day you two! Tonight at KidStuf practice, there was this exchange:

Me: How much would you love it if The Goke's wife were actually alive?
"Hurricane" Rhett: Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.

Seacrest hands The Goke a "present", which turns out to be "a bill" from a maid service, used to clean up the mess made during the video montage of them baking a cake. Is it bad that I almost wanted it to be an eHarmony ad for a hot chick.

(Five minutes just passed between my bad eHarmony joke and typing this sentence, as The Lovely Steph Leann stuck her head in the backdoor and said, "Can you help me?" So I did. Cause I'm a good husband!)

(And because I am such a good husband, Seacrest just dimmed the lights, and the DVR is paused with the Idols walking across the stage... why frozen? KT has just left as they are done with the sanding/staining... The Lovely Steph Leann is fixing her a quick dinner, and I'm waiting for her to un-pause the DVR. MZ already texted me "Haven't you watched this yet??")

Here we go, America....

Matty G is first. After the nationwide vote... Matty G stands on the right side of the stage. The Widower Danny Gokey is next. He's wearing glasses that very few people could successfully wear. He heads to the left side of the stage. My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta is next. She steps up next to The Goke.

When The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen's name is mentioned, he gets hoots from the crowd. He is directed to stand next to Matty G. And finally, The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert. Paula the Flake compared him to Michael Phelps in the Olympics. With the bong, maybe?

Seacrest does the whole "The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert, which group do you think you belong to?" The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert actually goes to The Widower Danny Gokey and My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta... then Seacrest grabs The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert and drags him over to The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen and Matty G, and says, "This is your bottom three!"

Both My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta's jaw and The Widower Danny Gokey's jaw drops in blank amazement. Kara the New Hotness says, "When The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert is involved, my mouth just drops open." There are many jokes here, not many are for this blog.

There are five people here. Not 12. Not 10. Not eight. Five. Which means The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert might be 3rd in voting, not last. But... its enough to scare The Ambiguously Gay Adam Fans into voting for him, ensuring a showdown between he and The Widower Danny Gokey. Just sayin'.

Seacrest introduces Natalie Cole. I ask The Lovely Steph Leann if we can fast forward, she asks me to wait to hear what Natalie Cole is singing. She's singing, "Something's Gotta Give". Is this the theme song from that movie? Granted, Natalie Cole's voice is great. Her earrings, though, make her look like a dreamcatcher.

We go back to My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta and The Widower Danny Gokey sitting on the Couch of Safety. The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen, Matty G and The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert all stand backstage, awaiting the news. Next up, fast forwarding through Taylor Hicks! The Lovely Steph Leann and I both agree that he still sounds pretty good, though I'll admit, he was not my next American Idol, that belonged to My Previous Next American Idol Katharine McPhee. I've had McPheever for years.

She's no Pickles... but she's still awesome!

The three remaining Idols come out, and Seacrest sends someone back to safety... The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen gets the reprieve, and The Lovely Steph Leann shrieks!

Now, its important for me to mention this... when I stood in my circle of Godly Mamas (and Mark Warner, husband of Cindy Jo) I made this prediction...

"The Widower Danny Gokey OR The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert will be kicked off. One will make the finals, one will get booted in a shocking episode, a la Daughtry". Just making sure I mentioned this, before we see what might be a huge Bottom Two results...

I still think Matty G goes home. And over The Lovely Steph Leann's protests, as she's raising the roof and getting funk-nunky with her bad self (hellz yeah!), I forward through Jamie Foxx. (she says, "I have no idea what he's saying"). After his performance, Seacrest says, "No question this is the number one song in America!" and I can respond with, "Yeah, I'm sure I have lots of questions as to why this is the number one song in America."

And now, finally, the dramatic final moments of the results show. Seacrest stretches it out a little farther, talking to Simon the Cowell, Paula the Flake, Randy the Dawg and Kara the New Hotness.

Dim the lights! Here we go! Matty G goes home, The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert sashays back to The Couch of Safety. A little surprising at the make up of the bottom two, but no surprise as to who goes home.

Next week, we lose My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta, then The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert, and we see The Widower Danny Gokey beat out The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen for the Idol Title, and go on to make a subpar record that no one I know will buy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Complete Rat Package... Idol goes Standard

Tonight... another night... another night of music... another night of dreams... another night of dreams broken... another night of song... another night of The Ambiguously Gay Screeching... what is this, you say? Its a talent show. Its an entertainment show. Its a variety show. Its a competition. What is this?





Two phone numbers for each contestant, now that they are down to only five. Our judges, Randy the Diggity Dawg, Kara the New Hotness, Paula the Flake and Simon the Cowell are sitting front and center, and Ryan the Seacrest introduces the theme... Standards from the Rat Pack era. Dean, Sammy, Tha Chairman... and those other guys that no one can remember... the mystery mentor this week? Kris Allen says, "The theme is Rat Pack... and all those people are... dead...?"

Jamie Foxx, an emblem of the 1960s standards and Rat Pack era music (I say this in all sarcasm), is the mentor. Personally, I think he was awesome in "Collateral".

Up first is The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen. She is bummed by the fact that our friend, KT, doesn't like him. KT didn't like My Last Next American Idol Brooke White either, so pooh on her.

I don't care what you say, KT... I loved My Last Next American Idol Brooke White. Her new single, "Hold Up My Heart", is pretty terrible, though.

He's taking on "The Way You Look Tonight", which I personally dig Frank's version of it. Tony Bennett's version is a little too slow for me, though I think Kris will emulate that version. Not that that is a bad thing.

Its a song from the film "Swing Time", and actually won the Academy Award for best song that year.

The Lovely Steph Leann is a currently a puddle on the couch. Jamie Foxx says that if things don't work out, "you and I can definately do something together, man." Not a bad compliment at all.

And the version kicks up a little in tempo... well done, The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen, well done.

Randy the Dawg says he is looking to see who's in it to win it... "Dude. I personally think this is your best performance to date." Kara the New Hotness says, "You have set the technical standard so high for this evening." I tell The Lovely Steph Leann that I thought it was good, and she just smiles. If that were Colin Firth singing the same song in the same way, I think The Lovely Steph Leann might have been kissing the screen, a la 1988 Kirk Cameron.

Paula the Flake babbles. Simon the Cowell says, "It was a little bit wet." What does that even mean? He says that he's not sure that The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen can even win this competition. The producers are wondering now... should they continue their course of The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert and The Gokenator... or should they throw in an underdog? Hmm...

Speaking of Next... here comes My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta, who has just turned 17! She's a year away from legality! I kid, I kid... if I was into jailbait, I'd be all about Emma Watson. Not that I am. Moving on.

Jamie Foxx is actually not a bad mentor... what he is telling the Idols makes pretty good sense. My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta is singing "Someone to Watch Over Me." It's a song from 1926, a Gershwin tune from the musical "Oh, Kay!". This song was done masterfully in Idol Season Five by My Girl McPhee, who went on to be Vice-Idol with Taylor Hicks. Not a great season of Idol, aside from McPheever... and Pickles!

Yay! I love Pickles!

By the way, My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta was awesome. Randy the Dawg says, "You look like Britney Murphy, looking dope, you sing like P!nk, only with 9,000 more octives!" Kara the New Hotness loves her too. Paula the Flake uses the words "Alluring" and "Tender". Simon the Cowell asks My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta if she thinks she can win. Simon the Cowell doesn't think she feels like she can win, and has a sinking feeling she might be in trouble.

Matty G says he's all stoked about this week, saying he loves the jazz part of it all. He's singing "My Funny Valentine". Jamie Foxx gives Matty G lots of love and props... something tells me he's going to drool over The Goke and The AGAL...

Did you know this song is from a 1937 musical called "Babes in Arms", and has appeared on over 1300 albums by over 600 artists?

I liked the song, though it wasn't as good as the first two. Randy the Dawg agrees. Kara the New Hotness agrees. Paula the Flake blubbers and drools on herself. Simon the Cowell disagrees with Randy the Dawg, and says it was "the only believable, authentic song I've heard tonight. I thought you were brilliant."

Up next is The Widower Danny Gokey (which, of course leaves The Pimp Slot for The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert) and he's singing "Come Rain or Come Shine". Its a song that was from the 1946 music "St. Louis Women", but like many of tonight's songs, the tune has long outlived the musical from which it came.

This song was also done by Kat McPhee back in Idol Season Five.

Trombone assisted, The Goke starts. Emmy Turnbow is sitting next to Cindy Jo Warner on the Goke-Wagon, and agrees with The Lovely Steph Leann that he looks much like Robert Downey Junior. Robert Downey Jr Junior, if you will.

And The Goke tosses out a pretty good song... The Lovely Steph Leann says, "For me, for him, that was the best I've ever heard him do. Ever." I would agree that it was pretty good...

Randy the Dawg says that The Goke could have an album with songs like this tonight... Kara the New Hotness commends "The Rat Pack Swagga..." and Paula the Flake says "Stellar." Simon the Cowell says it was great.

New show called "Glee" on Fox. The Lovely Steph Leann is so hyped about this show.

Mentioned Jamie Foxx earlier, being in the Michael Mann movie "Collateral." Excellent film. Tom Cruise as a bad guy, frickin' awesome. This video is probably Emmy Turnbow Safe, which means its NSFW, probably because of language... it is Rated R, but not for boobies (I don't remember any) but just for language and lots and lots of dead people.

And finally, its The Ambiguously Screechy Adam Lambert in the Pimp Slot. He's taking on "Feelin' Good", and he's already screeching in rehearsals with Jamie Foxx. Its actually from a 1965 musical called, "The Roar of the Greasepaint--the Smell of the Crowd", but its mostly known from Nina Simone's definitive version of the song. One of my 100 favorite songs of all time, just so you know.

Here comes the screech... wait for it... wait for it... and... bingo. We have screechage. This guy is a chump. The Gay Chris Isaak smiles, and the judges are speechless.

Randy the Dawg says it was a bit dramatic... but loved it anyway. Kara the New Hotness uses about 58 adjectives for him. Paula pees herself. Simon the Cowell loved it as well.

My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta... The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen... The Widower Danny Gokey... Matty G... The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert

Here's Nina's version, complete with the scatting at the end. Masterful. Turn it up. Enjoy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The First 100 Days

Okay, so we are now past that mythical benchmark of success, "The First 100 Days" of the presidency of one B. Hussein Obama, leader of our country, the most powerful man in the free world. Many people like to look at this 100 days as a sign of things to come--after all, in those first 100 days, he can either accomplish many things, or nothing, and its sure to be an indicator of future successes?

And our leader, President B. Hussein Obama certainly has done alot in these first 100 days. Here's some highlights, in no particular order...

  • Throw a couple of huge parties at the White House, serving Kobe Beef. Kobe Beef runs about 100 bucks a pound. Meanwhile, he's telling all to sacrifice and cutback in this, supposedly the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
  • Bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia. Admittedly, I'm not sure how you greet officials in that culture... but if I'm the President, you'd better believe I'd find out before I went over there. Bowing is not acceptable.
  • Sitting there, patiently, while Daniel Ortega, dictator of Nicaragua, goes on and on for almost an hour about the criminality and corruption of the United States. At no point during this "Summit of the Americas" does President B. Hussein Obama stand to defend his country, nor does he do such a thing when its his turn to speak. Instead, its just the last stop on...
  • The Obama America Apology Tour of 2009. Running around the world, telling everyone how sorry we are for everything. How much we suck. How things are going to be different since The Great Unifier, President B. Hussein Obama is in power now, and that reckless fool of a cowboy, Dubya, is gone. (to be fair, at The Summit of the Americas, President B. Hussein Obama did say, "I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old." All about him.)
  • Being "set straight" by Fidel Castro, who tells President B. Hussein Obama that despite how he might have taken his conversations with Raul Castro as "productive" and "possibly leading to a lesser embargo", that in fact, there will be no such productivity. Castro chastizes us about handling of political prisoners. We were chastized by Fidel Castro.
  • The nomination of at least five people who have tax issues and back taxes due, one of which now heads the IRS.
  • Insulting the British Prime Minister by sending back a statue of Winston Churchill, one that was given to America right after 9/11 as a gift of hope. Britain said to keep it, or even put it in a different room of the White House. President B. Hussein Obama said no thank you, we don't want it.
  • This time, though, we got some gifts from Britain... The first of which is a pen holder fashioned from the oak timber of HMS Gannet, a Navy vessel that served on anti-slavery missions off Africa. President B. Hussein Obama also received a framed commissioning paper for the HMS Resolute, a Royal Navy ship that came to symbolize British-American goodwill when it was rescued by the U.S. from icebergs and given to Queen Victoria. It is the sister ship of the HMS Gannet. Finally, he got a first edition of Martin Gilbert's seven-volume biography of Winston Churchill, whose World War II partnership with President Franklin Roosevelt symbolized the U.S.-Anglo alliance. For the First Daughters, Sasha and Malia, Sarah Brown, the Prime Minister's wife, gave each an outfit from Topshop, a British chain of clothing stores, and selected six children's books by British authors which have yet to be published in the U.S.
  • The First Lady gave Prime Minister Brown's two sons toy helicopters modeled after Marine One. Then President B. Hussein Obama gave his own historical, meaningful gifts to Prime Minister Brown. You know, like an iPod filled with his own speeches, and a collection of 25 DVDs of great American movies. Could you not spring for Blue-Ray, there Prez man?
  • Taking the Census from an independent agency and moving it over to his own (democractic) commerce department. Meaning? If there are people there that aren't as honest as some can be, they can mold and shape the census data however they choose too, possibly leading to restructuring of districts to advantages of certain parties.
  • Openly lying that the construction company Caterpillar would re-hire laid off workers with the passage of his stimilus bill, calling the company leaders liars when they said they would not be able to re-hire regardless of passage, then blaming business owners for our economic status when Caterpillar then laid off more workers after the bill passed.
  • Making his supporters happy, he pledges to close Guantanamo Bay, then to keep the other side happy, keeps it open with no plan to close it soon. (personally, I support President B. Hussein Obama in this latter part!)
  • Tries to nationalize the banking system in our country to prevent banks and financial institutions from paying back Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP) money they either didn't need or want.
  • French President Sarkozy ridicules and humiliates President B. Hussein Obama by telling him he's got a "Messiah Complex" and invites him to come to Normandy Beach and "walk on water". Ouch.
  • After thousands of Americans decide to peacefully protest and demonstrate at "Tea Parties", something we'd seen dozens of times during President Dubya's administration (though not all were peaceful, and some were downright hateful), President B. Hussein Obama's Homeland Security agency labels such protesters--including returning veterans--as security risks, likening them to terrorists. As someone who loves this country, disagrees with President B. Hussein Obama's policies, is against terrorist, believes in and loves Jesus and God, and supports our military, aka, as someone who is a "Right Wing Extremist", I find this one funny.
  • Admiral Dennis Blair, an appointee of President B. Hussein Obama to be the Director of National Intelligence, comes out and says that the CIA has in fact received high value, lifesaving information through captured terrorists, only to have President B. Hussein Obama rebuke him and say that those interrogations are immoral and counterproductive.
  • President B. Hussein Obama's rhetoric against torture is so ridiculous that "face slapping" is considered torture, as well as "putting an insect in a small room with a detainee who might be afraid of insects". No, I'm not making this up. Abu Zabayda had a fear of insects. They put him in a tiny cell and told him that the insect they were placing in the cell with him was "a stinging insect". It was a caterpiller. This is considered torture, according to President B. Hussein Obama.

All of this in 100 days? How did he have time to breathe?

(pausing a moment while my soapbox is put into place. stepping onto said soapbox.)

For many months, I wrestled with whether President B. Hussein Obama was a bumbling incompetent goober who didn't know what he was doing or whether he actually knew exactly what he was doing. I think I've decided its a mixture of the two.

All of these things in his first 100 days doesn't tell us who he is, its a result of who he is. He is a man who thinks this country should change in a huge turnaround. He feels that for too long, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer--now this is an often used cliche that you may or may not agree with, and both sides of that argument could present proof for their case, but that statement's validity is not what I'm trying to say. Instead of using his power, his popularity, his charm to help the poor get richer... education, self-worth, job training, etc... he has now made it his mission to use the power of the United States government to help the rich get poorer.

Its just not fair. Its not fair that all these people have all this money, be it earned, inherited or gotten in an ill-conceived way, its all just not fair. What is fair, however, is to make those people who've enjoyed the lap of luxury for so long pay. When they pay, then the poor people will get some of that money. And the poor people will love the government for it, and viola! You've got a nation of people, equally poor and miserable, all depending on the government.

THIS IS WHO OBAMA IS. He is a strategist who wants our government to be in control of as much as possible... banks, the auto industry, the private sector, the schools... he is someone who isn't concerned with making our country safer, but more concerned with setting up the Bush Adminstration as who will take the blame if the country gets attacked again during the current administration, even though these things that President B. Hussein Obama is doing right now is leaving us open for such things.

The Tea Parties were fun. It showed that there are alot of like minded people out there, people who don't want this country to go in the direction that President B. Hussein Obama is ready to take us to. Unfortunately, unless a candidate who inspires and excites our side the way Obama did with the liberal left steps up, it will all be for naught. If another McCain is presented as our only option in 2012, then it will continue. Perhaps not Sarah Palin, but someone like her.

(steps off the soapbox)

So, I'll sit back and await the next 100 days, then the next, then the next, all sure to be as fun and scary as the first. Sort of like Everest at Disney World. Up, down, up, down, and suddenly, when you think you've finally hit the point where you are going to go faster, make more progress... you go backwards. Backwards fast. Really fast.

Oh yeah...


ps... anyone who decides to respond is not allowed to invoke Dubya's name. This isn't about what Bush did. This is about what President B. Hussein Obama is doing.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Troy State's Freshman Spring

Time for some new music on The Clouds, and this time around, I've decided to pull out the Troy State Freshman Spring playlist... these are all songs that were released, out and popular between December and June of 1994... my winter & spring quarters as a frosh at Troy State University...

"Cantaloop" by Us3... Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, we have something special down here at Bird Land this evening, a recording from Blue Note Records. I dare you not to get into this beat.

"Mary Jane's Last Dance" by Tom Petty... I don't think, even as an 18 year old, I recognized this song being about mary-ju-wanna at the time. This brings back memories of Erin Magonigal sitting with myself, Lisa Murphy, Allison Wiggins, Stephanie Massey, Wookiee, The Wench and Kate Gates, singing along during dinner at SAGA. The video, featuring a then-young-and-hot Kim Basinger? Awesome.

"Because the Night" by 10,000 Maniacs... There's a bridge at the end of the song that I, to this day, still have no clue what exactly she's saying. I actually made up an entire verse that had something to do with "I have no... idea... what to sing so I will go... and make... it up". I sang this to Lisa Murphy while driving to Subway around 1am one night. She loved it. Lisa Murphy rocked.

"...And Our Feelings" by Babyface... Ever had those songs that are like, forever old, and to this day, when they come on, you're still all about it? Babyface was awesome back in the day... this is one that I happily sing along to, loudly, while in the car... "AAAAnd our feeeelings! Just aren't feelings anymore... they're just words without emotions from people we don't know... No! No! No No No nonononono!!!!"

It also helps that the song title has at its beginning an ellipsis. You know my love of ellipses... much better than the use of ( ) in song titles (more on that below).

"You Mean the World to Me" by Toni Braxton... This song is part of the Toni Trifecta, also featuring "Another Sad Love Song" and "Breathe Again". Its rare for any artist to have three straight incredibly incredible songs, but she did it. I love me some Toni... she's who my car is name after.

"Mr. Jones" by Counting Crows... My main problem with Adam Duritz is how in the world he could be some homely looking and still get with all these hot celebrities? In his prime, he dated not only a in-her-prime Jennifer Aniston, but also a in-her-prime Courtney Cox, a still in-her-prime Monica Potter and even a relatively-cute-then Winona Ryder. This would be like dopey me dating Julie Wise and Sandy Wright, but then going on to date Tiffany Abbott, followed by Laura DeGarmo before finally ending up with The Lovely Steph Leann. Wait... come to think of it, I had a pretty good run myself. Scratch all that.

"Come to My Window" by Melissa Ethridge... For The Lovely Steph Leann's money, she'd take "I'm The Only One" over this song anytime. Not me. I love the slow kick off, followed by the great vocals and guitar. I mean, yeah, she's singing in the choir of the Lesbetarian Church, but still... just cause Elton John is Brokeback doesn't mean that "Your Song" is any less diminished. So be it with Melissa.

"All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow... I feel sad that Sheryl Crow has slowly become a laughing stock liberal. She used to be so awesome! As a matter of fact, I'm actively working on a list of "d$'s Favorite Artists, Ever", and Sheryl has to be Top Five. "The Globe Sessions"? One of my favorite CDs, ever.

As lamented in a previous post, I miss this Sheryl Crow. Sassy, hot, talented, and not a left wing moron.

"Stay" by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories... There are those songs that you know by heart, and can sing anytime, anywhere. Then there are those songs that you know by heart, but you can't start in the middle... you have to start at the beginning. If someone said to you, "Hey, what's that part in the song about living forever? How does it go, I would have to start at the beginning, singing really softly and quickly to myself, "yousayidonlyhearwhatiwantto... (mumble through the verse)... soiturntheradiooniturntheradioupandthiswomanwassingingmysong... (mumble some more)... someofushoverwhilewerewaitingfortheotherwhowasdying... (a big more mumbling)... and I thought I'd live forever, and now I'm not so sure!! That's it!"

"Shine" by Collective Soul... I think Collective Soul could have been bigger, had they not come on the heels of Pearl Jam and Nirvana. They were rock without being metal, and were still pretty cool. As it is, they were awesome for the next, I dunno, like 7 years or something... "Gel", "December", "The World I Know" and one of my favorite running/driving songs, "Heavy". This song started it all though. There was a rumor that dcTalk's "So Long My Friend", a song about someone who gave up their walk with Christ to be famous, was about Collective Soul.

"Loser" by Beck... Let's face it, I don't know what this song is about. No, you don't either. Don't try.

"Regulate" by Warren G feat. Nate Dogg. Had to listen to this song throughly to make sure the only questionable material in the song was just mentions of tricks and ho's. We're good.

Maybe this was the first, maybe it wasn't, but this song was at the beginning of the "Featuring" trend. Remember how Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson sang "Say Say Say"? It was "Say Say Say" by Paul McCartney AND Michael Jackson. The "And" represented the fact that both parties did equal amounts of work. But here? Its not Warren G and Nate Dogg... oh nay nay. Its Warren G "FEATURING" Nate Dogg... and its not even "featuring", its "feat.". Can you imagine "Islands in the Stream" by Dolly Parton feat. Kenny Rogers? Or "Endless Love" by Diana Ross feat. Lionel Richie? I'm more bitter about this than I am with the use of ( ) in songs.

I hate when a song uses parantheses in the title. Bryan Adams, are you listening? Either name your song "Everything I Do", or "I Do It For You", or even "Everything I Do I Do It For You", but don't throw ( ) in there. "Everything I Do (I do it for you)". Why? "Over My Head (cable car)" is stupid. Either call it "Over My Head", or "The Cable Car", or even throw a / in there... "Over My Head/Cable Car" would work, though still silly, just not as silly. There are no reasons to have subtitles in your songs. Unless your Meat Loaf, and in that instance, your songs are 24 minutes long, so you probably deserve a subtitle. Just my thoughts.

Anyway, everyone now... "REEEGGUUULLLAAATTOOOORRSSS!!!!!! Mount up."

"The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" by Prince... One of The Purpled One's lesser known tunes, I like it. I own the cassette single. It's fun. It's silky. It's Prince before he lost all of his talent.

"The Sign" by Ace of Base... Personally, I preferred "Don't Turn Around", but this one is the most popular.

"Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" by The Crash Test Dummies... In the archives of ridiculous songs, this has to be right up there. I daresay that when this song comes on the playlist, this will be the first time some of you have either ever heard this song, or have heard it in about, maybe 14 or 15 years.

There's my new playlist, courtesy of "In My Coffee (the clouds)", starring d$ feat. The Lovely Steph Leann.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Disco Here. Disco There. Dis Idol Go Everywhere. (with RESULTS!)

Just got home from The Happiest Place in the Mall, celebrating Earth Day by collecting a few thousand plastic water bottles for recycling... and now I'm here to recycle the jokes and watch the recycled group song (or fast forward, like you know I will...)

Hopped on Facebook, and thankfully I didn't see any news of who may or may not be kicked off... tonight, we lose two... because



Seacrest lets me know the theme of the medley that I'll be skipping tonight (disco, natch) and the performance that I'll be skipping (Young Archie) so hopefully, I can miss that dreaded Ford commercial as well. The judges. Randy the Dawg, Simon the Cowell, Paula the Blunderer and Kara the New Hotness, are here, and we now watch Paula the Flake do the choreography for this week's group song.

Paula Abdul.... I used to have the hottest poster of her on my wall. She was part of my early celebrity crush lineage.... Nancy McKeon to Alyssa Milano to Debbie Gibson to Mariah Carey to Paula Abdul. Back in day, like many of today's musical jokes, Paula was awesome diggity. Seriously.

By the way, after the group song, they award Paula with some flowers... she comes onstage to hug them in a dress so short that Seacrest tells her to be careful.

Anyway, her first CD was "Forever Your Girl", but to me, the crown jewel was "Vibeology", an immaculate album of cool dance beats, fun songs and Paula at her premier hotness... and of course, it spawned one of the greatest, most epic, most incredible, most unintentionally hysterical videos in the history of the known world. Forget "The Matrix", or "Speed" or even the Oscar winning "Hardball"... no, Keanu Reeves finest moment...

I've posted this video before, but as my audience grows, I must give more chances for more people to witness this vision of visionary visions. You'll see this again when I finally do my post on my ten favorite music videos of all time...

Seacrest kills some time while the chicks change clothes... the guys do it faster. Always. Alright, Mindy D'A, dim the lights... let's start with... Lil Rounds. Her time has passed, she's gotten too many chances. Alexis Grace should be here right now. She takes a walk to the far side of the stage to the Silver Stools of Failure, though Seacrest doesn't actually say she's in the Bottom Three.

He doesn't have too, actually... he drops the bomb on her like The Gap Band, and just flat out tells her "Get out, chick." And she grabs the mic to kick Chaka Khan in the face again with her "I'm Every Woman".

Here's how the song should be sung... from one of the most underrated movies of all time... "The Bodyguard".

We're back now with Seacrest, welcoming... someone. Who? Frieda Payne? Who? Was Donna Summer really not available? They did 4,288 of her songs last night, putting Donna back in the spotlight, and she seriously couldn't find the time to come to Idol? What else is she doing? Nothing, that's what!!

Ah... here's Thelma Houston. "aaaawwwwww bbbbaaaaayyyyybbbaaaaayyy.... my heart is full and desire for you! So come on now and do what you know you gots to do!" The cut to Paula the Flake, who is standing and dancing, and Simon the Cowell has a big, toothy grin on his face. I think I've decided I want Thelma Houston to play at my birthday party this summer. Oh, come on, you know YOU would totally come to d$'s 34th Annual Birthday Bash in August if Thelma Houston was going to be there! She could just sing this song about 9 times and I'd be alright. The Lovely Steph Leann, can you get on that?

KC, sans Sunshine Band, comes out singing, what else, "Get Down Tonight". Dude looks like a trucker straight off of "To Catch a Predator". In fact, Chris Hansen might be in the second row... maybe its the botox or whatever, but KC is hard pressed to show any emotion whatever. He has this "Joker" type grin going on, and I mean Jack's, not Heath's. He's struggling to get down tonight, too. And where is the Sunshine band? Are they hanging with Donna Summer?

And we're back... alright Cindy Jo, dim the lights. Its time to show some Bottom Three-ness. One of the Silver Stools of Failure has been taken away...

Kris Allen stands up. Last night? Best performance of the night. Maybe the coolest, anyway. America votes... and Kris is safe. The Ambiguously Gay Adam stands up, with very little worry of anything, really. He's kinda got a Gay Chris Isaak coif going on, just much darker. He sits in safety.

The Widower Danny Gokey stands up. How does he actually have exactly the same amount of stubble every week? Does he time this every week? He sits. Naturally.

This now leaves Matty G, Anoop the Eyebrowed One and My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta... with two Silver Stools of Failure still unseated. Anoop nods knowingly as he is in the Bottom Two. Matty G and My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta stand up together...

Matty G... Matty G... Matty G... Matty G... please please please please....

Seacrest stretches it out as long as possible before finally sending My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta to the Silver Stools of Failure. And extra set of stools have been brought out, one for each of Anoop's eyebrows.

Young David Archuleta does his thing, I skip it entirely, and let's do the final results. KT, dim the lights. Seacrest holds the card... and Anoop Dogg is gone now. And before he sings his final song, he declares jihad on the entire show. Not good times. Its better this way, though... now the terrorists don't win. Well... considering our president... oy!


Just a quick note before we start... Jason Bateman. I did a review on "State of Play" a few days ago, and Mindy D'A reminded me that I didn't mention Jason Bateman... he steals the latter half of this movie, by the way, and I can only attribute the fact that it was late when I blogged about it as the reason I left Bateman out. He is brilliant in this, and you need to know this.







This is going to be the train wreck of the season, as it usually is. Seriously. I mean, when they are sitting around the table, and the producers are trying to come up with the themes, you reckon someone says, "Okay, we got country week... we got birth-year week... we got movie night... all the weeks are taken but one... what do we fill that one with?"

"What about Billy Joel Week? The songs of Billy Joel?"
"No, that's too old."
"What about... maybe Past Idol Tunes week? Songs from Kelly and Ruben and Taylor and Carrie and such."
"Nope, that's not good either"
And some drunk guy in the back stands up and says, "I think we should do disco week. Again!"
"PERFECT! Cause Barry Gibb was amazing last year!"

Here's what he sang... "Theres a. Light. Some kind. Of light..." It was horrendous--so bad, that to this day, I still make fun of it.

But as it is, this is Disco Week. If Lil Rounds doesn't blow this out the water, then there IS NO HOPE for her. Without a video (they probably only have one for The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert and The Goke), they let her go straight into Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman."

And I notice that in the hotpants she's wearing, she's got back for days. Literally, I could take this Chipotle Mexican Grill cup of ice cold Co-cola and set it on the top of that thing. She's close the judges, but her bum is straight back, rubbing the video screen.

Randy the Dawg says, "You got the party started... but..." and its not good. He says that she didnt show what kind of artist she could be, and seriously, by now, there isn't any chance she will. Kara the New Hotness says, "We've been waiting for you to sing Chaka or someone and show us what you can do... and really, I don't think its worth the wait. You literally have been every woman up there this year." Paula the Flake goes through butterflies and puppy dog tails. Simon the Cowell says it was copycat and messy.

Kris Allen is holding a guitar for Disco Week. Is there really any guitar music ever actually in any disco song you know? And he picked out "She's Works Hard for the Money" by Donna Summer, and as he says, its a song about a woman who has a great work ethic. Yep, she works hard. For her money.

I look over at The Lovely Steph Leann, smiling and simply say, "I dig this guy." She chirps, "I LOVE KRIS ALLEN!!" Dude, this is awesome. He's got the band on the stage, pounding the bongos, playing guitar and really... and this is the first time I've said this so far this season... I might consider buying a Kris Allen CD. And for the first time this year, a performance that I might actually consider in the Top 100 Coolest Things of 2009, along with Chipotle, lunch with Stan McDuffie and Mindy D'A herself...

Kara the New Hotness sings his praises. Paula... oh, Paula Paula Paula. I cannot even describe what I just heard. "Some women shop in the men's department, but few men shop in the women's department", leading to all sorts of Kris Allen Buys Chick Undies jokes... Simon the Cowell says it was completely opposite of Lil Rounds, and that it was fantastic. Randy the Dawg says it was awesome.

The Lovely Steph Leann begins a real rant... "I mean, come on, I know it was mess up Idol's perfect little word to have Kris Allen in the top two and not The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert or The Widower Danny Gokey, but REALLY!!! HE'S AWESOME!!! WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO DO??!!"

So let's now give it to The Goke himself, The Widower Danny Gokey... he's doing "September" by Earth Wind & Fire. This is a hard song for a white boy to pull off, really. I'll be honest, I make fun of (with?) the guy, but he can sing. He's got a great voice. But he's done very little to impress me so far.

This used to be my ringtone on my first cell phone I ever got. I remember using it as a wake up alarm on missions in New York City in 2005.

Randy the Dawg said he wasn't sure about the song choice originally, but he really like the version that The Gokinator made happen. Kara the New Hotness--and really, she is pretty hot, and I think she gets finer as the season goes on--loved it. She loved the pitch. Paula the Blitherer blitherers. She says he's got a sexy voice. Cindy Jo agrees. Simon the Cowell likes The Widower Danny Gokey, but didn't like the song.


My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta must defend her My Next American Idol crown against challenger Kris Allen tonight. She's doing "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer, and chick is laying on the stairs, slinking up across the stage and if she were a) older than 16 and b) prettier, then she'd be pretty hot right about now. But as she's neither, I can say she looks pretty cool.

I love me some Jailbait Ally... but I didn't like the song all that much. Randy the Dawg thought the arrangement was overindulgent, but says she's one of the best singers in the competition. I think we've heard "And you're only 16!!" or some variation of that has been said about 53,000 times this year. Kara the New Hotness agrees with Randy the Dawg. Paula the Blubberer blubberers. Simon the Cowell says it was a brilliant performance.

And now its time for The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert. He's doing... or will destroy... "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman, one of my favorite disco songs from that era. Seriously, I love that song.

And he turns it into a ballad. I think he's actually a pretty smart guy... he'll do a rape of a certain classic, like last week, then come back the next week and play it safe, sing it pleasantly cool, and wait for the judges to heap praises onto him. And right at the end, he throws in his "WHHHAAAAAAAAYAYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAHHHHHHH" scream. Its a patented move now. Yes, yes, the song was good. But its The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert.

Randy the Dawg says it was awesome. Kara the New Hotness says this was the most memorable performance, and I completely disagree. Kris Allen has stolen this show. Paula the Blabberer blabberers, while Simon the Cowell laughs at her. Simon the Cowell was surprised is that it wasn't Donna Summer, but loved it and the immaculate vocals.

Personally, I think The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert should have done... "YMCA"? "Macho Man"? "In the Navy"? Ha! I tell The Lovely Steph Leann this joke, and she rolls her eyes.

My favorite disco songs ever... in no particular order...
  • "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, though I can't truly rule this straight disco, and if ABBA is disco, then I can't say that "Dancing Queen" is my favorite ABBA song, because its a toss up between "Mamma Mia" and "S.O.S.".
  • "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman. The real version, not the one The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert just took an Ambiguously Gay dump on.
  • "Last Dance" by Donna Summer. Its quick, its fun, its sing alongable.
  • "When Will I See You" by The Three Degrees. Soft. Tender. Sensative. Like me.
  • "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston. You'd know this if you heard it... it starts out slower, then kicks in "ooooohhhhhh baby! my heart is full o'love and desire for you!"
  • "The Rubberband Man" by The Spinners. I don't have a single clue what this song is about, nor do I care. Its just cool, cool funk.
  • "We Want the Funk" by George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. Can you get a much cooler name than Parliament Funkadelic. I think not.


And yes, I'm thrilled by the fact that this album is called "Kung Fu Fighting and Other Love Songs". The unintentional comedy scale just broke.

  • "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas. Seriously, how does a black man in the 70s come up with the idea of writing a song--a racist song at that, with Chinamen and Lil Sammy Chong--about kung fu movies and such? I am sure wacky terbacky was involved. (more on this at the bottom of the blog...)
  • "Best of My Love" by The Emotions. "Whoa oh, you get the best of my love, whoa oh... you get the best of my love!" Possibly my favorite disco classic.
I ask The Lovely Steph Leann her favorite disco songs, and she shrugs. "I like that Yvonne song I guess... I dunno... 'I Will Survive'... maybe? I don't even know what there is..."

Thats true with Disco. I had to pull up iTunes and actually look at my Disco genre.

Back to the show, where Seacrest alludes to Matty G doing "Stayin' Alive". Could this be true?

Without hearing the version, I call it--Lil Rounds and Matty G go home. If you are The Widower Danny Gokey or The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert, you can do "Stayin' Alive" and get away with it. If you are fighting for your life, you don't do "Stayin' Alive". You find something you can absolutely nail. Something you can blow out. This song? No.

He comes out, puts a little rock/soul spin on it, and it sounds pretty good. Heck, if you are doing to do something risky and crazy, go "Atomic Dog". Who wouldn't have wanted to hear Matty G go "Bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay"?

Randy the Dawg didn't love the song, but still says that Matty G can really sing. Kara the New Hotness says she was glad that Matty G brought disco back to the night. Paula the Wanderer wanderers, making a bowling metaphor of some sort. Right up her alley. Simon the Cowell didn't like it.

Anoop the Eyebrowed One closes out the show, and I wonder what ballad he's going to do. And I say this right before the guitar starts with the ballad music. Its a song called "Dim the Lights", and hey... the song picks up. Its one I'm not familiar with, but its by, again, Donna Summer.

When I made my prediction about who's going home, I literally forgot that Anoop the Eyebrowed One was even in this show... Randy the Dawg liked it. Kara the New Hotness liked it. Paula the Wisdomer dispenses wisdom. Er. Simon the Cowell disagrees with everyone, not liking the song at all, and thought it was the worst Eyebrowed performance by a mile.

So here's how it goes down...
Kris Allen. My Next American Idol Allison Iraheta. Matty G. The Ambiguously Gay Adam Lambert. The Widower Danny Gokey. The Eyebrowed Anoop Doggy Dogg. Lil Rounds.

As they are showing the clips again, and reminding you of the numbers, The Lovely Steph Leann goes on another mini-rant about Kris Allen, and how he's getting no love from the judges, and she doesn't know what he can do to make them say "you can win this thing!"

And for me, Disco Week wasn't all that bad this year. Results tomorrow night!

So after the show was over, I was still curious about Carl Douglas writing and performing "Kung Fu Fighting". I mean, really. This is like me sitting down and writing a ballad about political espionage, cause I liked those kind of films. I ventured over to Carl's Wiki page, and here is what he lists as his three factors for writing this song...

1. He liked Kung Fu movies, and had seen them recently. Granted.
2. Went to a jazz concert featuring Oscar Peterson, a legendary jazz pianist, and was inspired by some of his music
and finally...
3. Was suffering from the side effects of pain killers.

Ladies and gentleman, I think we have a winner. Option #3. Yep, I noticed its not even in sync. Just like a great kung fu movie. Everyone now... "Wha ho ho hoooooooo.... Wha ho ho hooooo..... Wha ho ho hoooooo.... Wha ho ho hoooooo...."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Recent Movies Taken In

Seen several movies since the year began... figured it was time to talk about 'em...

First... "The Watchmen", a much ballyhooed adaptation of the classic graphic novel from the mid 80s... 1986, I think. The comic was so beloved and heralded, it ushered in a new, darker tone of comics across the board, and still remains the only graphic novel among Time Magazine's 100 Best Books of Like, Ever, or whatever they call the list.

I knew very little about this storyline to begin with, and rather than rush out to Barnes & Noble or Target and buy it for $20, then try to read it and absorb it all in a matter of days, I just figured I'd go see it, storyline unbeknownst. Or at least, not knownst to me. It would make me understand what Harry Potter movie goers go through when they haven't read the book.

The movie was... well, weird. I can understand why people who love the comic maybe wouldn't like it, as its always hard to translate certain things to screen via special effects when you can pretty much make anything happen on paper and make it look good. I can also understand, though, when I hear people say that this movie was about as good as you are going to get when adapting the book itself... I flipped through the graphic novel a few days later, and really, some of the dialogue is exactly the same.

To me, there were two stars of this movie... one was Jeffery Dean Morgan, who became famous for being Denny in "Grey's Anatomy". I always liked the guy in that show, and as the anti-hero The Comedian, he's just awesome. Got just the rough and tumble, careless personality and look that the character seemed to require.

The other bright spot? Jackie Earle Haley, playing Rorschach, the shape-shifting mask wearing guy. His voice is gravely, his words are dark and to me, he ends up being the best part of the entire feature. Also pretty good is Patrick Wilson (The Nite Owl) and Malin Akermin (Silk Spectre II). The names are a little oddball, if anything.

The NOT star of the show? Billy Crudup, who I'll forever know as Russell, the lead singer of Swampwater, plays Dr. Manhattan, and likes to be naked. Alot. I mean alot alot. And he's blue. So there was a whole lot of blue wang going on in this film. Its like a train wreck, really... you can't look at it. But you still end up looking at it, mortified, horrified and bewildered, all at once. Such is "The Watchmen." Totally Rated R for boobage, language, violence and lots of blue wang.

Another film The Lovely Steph Leann and I went to see was "Race to Witch Mountain", starring my boy The Rock. Well, he kinda goes by Dwayne Johnson now, having dropped "The Rock" nickname, but really, who is he kidding? He'll always be The Rock. The movie poster stood behind the box office at The Happiest Place in the Mall for a month, and when guests come in, I'd hear them mention things like, "Have you heard about that Witch Mountain movie?" "What movie?" "You know, the one The Rock is in?"

Never saw the first two, "Escape to Witch Mountain" or "Return from Witch Mountain", and really, until fairly recently, I didn't even know much about what they were about... I guess I kept thinking "Man from Snowy River" and expected horses and cowboys and such... but nay nay, this was all sci-fi.

The plot is simple... two aliens crash to Earth, and are looking for their missing spaceship. The aliens are kids, and are being tracked by a bounty hunter, seeking to stop them from getting what they are after. The kids get into The Rock's cab, cause he's a cab driver, and literally, the race to save the world begins.

This movie is everything you think it would be, and nothing more. Its got action, its got jokes, its got a pretty good story and such... it doesn't think too hard, it doesn't ask you to believe too much or suspend too much disbelief, other than whats already suspended... I liked it alot. It's a silly popcorn movie that was worth the price. Rated PG with nary a trace of language, and only alien violence.

Not the trailer to the movie... but a clip from The Rock's storied WWE career...

A couple of days ago we saw "Sunshine Cleaning". This was one I had been waiting on, as the previews looked wonderful and it helps that I'm in love with Amy Adams. Amy plays Rose Lorkowski, a 30 something woman who's life hasn't turned out like she hoped. Rose is not making much money, her son is a problem child, and she's having an affair with a guy that she knows down deep will never leave his wife. She's a maid for a maid service, and realizes that her life has really hit a wall when she ends up cleaning a house for someone she went to high school with.

Her sister Norah isn't faring much better, having just been fired and spends her nights being lazy and amounting to very little. Rose gets a tip, though, about crime scene cleanups... being the girl that goes in, cleans up the blood and guts after the bodies are removed, and Sunshine Cleaning is born when Norah is pulled in.

Ya know, The Goddess ain't gettin' any younger. It might be sooner than later that Amy Adams ascends to that top spot... she's already becoming one of my favorite actresses, and in a very tiny group of actors that make me say, "I'll go see her next movie, whatever it is."

I loved this movie in every possible way. It was charming, it was fun and there aren't a thousand subplots to try and tie up at the end. Some of the cliched stuff that you think would happen in a movie like this never does, which was refreshing, and Rose is such a lovable character that you root for her the entire time--and its heartbreaking when the major "event" happens that seems to ruin everything late in the movie. You even end up really liking Norah, despite some of the stupid things she does. What I also loved about this movie is it doesnt' feel the need to resolve every little issue with a Hollywood happy ending. Some things are... well, just done when they are done. Rated R for language and some Amy Adams underwear shots.

When The Lovely Steph Leann and I were at the movies Friday night, I commented on silliness of the catch-phrase movie titles... Steven Seagel and Jean-Claude Van Damme were the worst about this... "Hard to Kill" or "Sudden Death" or "Out for Justice" were some examples. I remember when Jenn Mullturp and I went to see "Titanic" together in early 1997, and they showed the previews for this new Christian Slater movie coming out... "Hard Rain". Originally called "The Flood", a far superior title in my estimation, when the title card came up, I thought Jennifer was going to absolutely pass out from laughter. I had to calm her down to keep her from distracting other patrons of the theater.

That being said, "State of Play", despite its stupid title, was excellent. Absolutely excellent. The all star cast was just part of it--Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren--when many times "all star casts" just don't work, especially in political thrillers (See "Lions for Lambs". Or better yet, don't).

Just kicks off immediately with a couple of deaths that seem unrelated, which of course, you know have to be related somehow... but what drives this movie is Crowe, who is great as a reporter who just wants to dig for the truth, no matter where it takes him, including taking him to his friend, Congressman Collins, played by a surprisingly good Affleck. Rachel McAdams is Della Frye, a blogger for Crowe's newpaper and who resists learning from Crowe--but ends up assisting him all the same. And thankfully, there wasn't a "Peacemaker" ending, that being a pretty good movie ruining by a sudden romantic gesture between its two leads when nothing during the movie was leading to that.

The twists kept coming, the dialogue was sharp, the humor was in-line and the plot, though thick, was very, very good. I always look at The Lovely Steph Leann as the credits begin to roll and ask, "How did you like it?" This time, I looked at her, and said, "I really liked that. How about you?" Rated PG-13 for language and violence.

And because its my blog...

This is Goldberg's debut on WWE, after WCW shut down. The spear is fabulous, and The Rock sells it perfectly--he was never a great wrestler, but he was the epitome of an entertainer.

I always thought that The Lovely Steph Leann should have let me have wrestlers entrance music at the wedding. Mikey Nipp could have run down to Motorhead's "The Game", and Wook-Fu could have totally entered in under Goldberg's music, then stood in the smoke and blew smoke out. It would have... well, Rocked.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

samson blog part IV: memories on highway 52

Working at The Happiest Place in the Mall affords me the chance to sometimes see people I haven't seen in years. I have seen many of my college mates come through the doors, each looking for some magic, and a few from elsewhere (including a run in with Shay Oliver, to which I had to apologize for the visit). Tonight? Beth Edison came through the doors. Haven't seen her in about, I dunno, 17 years? She still looks the same, just a few years older.

We also had a prom group come through tonight, and that gave me a great idea for a post later... prom nights. Four proms, three dates, many stories. But that's later. For now, here's the end of my daylong visit to Samson, Alabama. This actually appears on pages 9 thru 12 of the original document I wrote it on, which is why I had to break it up into four parts. Its been a fun column to write, though. Anyway, here's the previous posts, then the finale....

Samson Blog Part I: "...Knee High to a Puddle Duck"
Samson Blog Part II: Tammy Ward & the Library Books
Samson Blog Part III: High School Highs... and Lows


At 7:30, I turned onto Highway 52, and headed out of Samson, toward Geneva, back from the direction I had already come. I had told Sandy Wright hours earlier that I would stop by her parent’s house and say hello, so when I came upon their county road, I turned right. It was paved, but only slightly… the Wright home is a house I’d been to many, many times as a teenager, both visiting and working. Sometimes I would just hang out with Cristie, other times I would help Forrest paint or clean or whatever, and he paid well. The restaurant closed some years after I started college, but the Wrights own a florist & gift shop in Geneva, and he does, or at least did at one point, sell fencing and siding.

So when I came to the Wright home, imagine my surprise when I couldn’t get in. They have a long white fence that wraps around the property, with a small driveway that I parked in. There was a gate. An immovable gate that I had no clue how to approach. Granted, I could have easily ducked between the wide spaces in the fencing, but the last time I was here, they had a couple of Dalmatians that were the size of Toni Rocky Honda, so I stood for a few minutes, staring at the house. Do I honk the horn? Do I duck under the fence and make a run for it, hoping the Spawn of Spotted Dog doesn’t chase me down and maul me? What do I do? It’s about 7:50 now, the light is fading, so who knows if they even recognize me?

Finally, I decided I would just leave a note. I grabbed a Sharpie, cause you know I lurves me some Sharpies and Toni Rocki Honda contains about 30, and scribbled down:

Forrest & Charlotte

Stopped by to see you both. Didn’t know how to enter the Wright Fortress. Hope you are well, hope to see you soon.


I wheeled Toni Rocki Honda to their mailbox, opened it, put my note in, and left. There was one more stop to make, really, in my Samson excursion… Wal-Mart, though it was actually in Geneva. My purpose was singular… I wanted to walk the store front to back, side to side, and count the paces. Then I wanted to compare it with the Wal-Mart down the street from The Cabana on 280. Back to front, the Geneva Wal-Mart was 73 paces. Side to side, its 103. I’m not joking. And the Wal-Mart closes, which in a city that has about six of them within a fifteen mile radius that stay open 24-7, is unfathomable.

Finally, it was time to go. Through Geneva, back through Enterprise and up to Troy, where I made a quick stop at the FarmHouse Fraternity house to drop off a paddle that was given to me years and years ago by my big brother there… it was time the paddle found a home in the house. Met some of the guys, watched a few minutes of the NCAA championship game, shook some hands and then I was out.

My last stop before home was in Prattville at Steak-n-Shake… I wasn’t even that hungry, having eaten hours before, but I got a small burger, fries and a milkshake… because its Steak-n-Shake, and I never get a chance to go there. Truly, I miss Denny’s, but I do love some SNS.

My day in Samson was wonderful, not made so by any particular part of it, but by the combination of well wishes, familiar faces and throwbacks to days when it was so simple. I think everyone thinks to themselves how they would do it if they could go back, knowing now what you know. I would think I’d be the coolest guy in school, because honestly I wouldn’t care. Lord knows I’d have better fashion sense, and I’d probably have a change of clothes in my locker to put on as soon as I got to school.

As simple as it seems, though, I am truly blessed to be sitting here in front of my laptop, sitting on a wooden TV tray, which is sitting on an expensive designer rug, sprawled out in front of our leather couches, in a living room directly under the bedroom where the most wonderful, beautiful woman I’ve ever known is sleeping peacefully. All of this is in The Cabana, our house we bought last year, sitting close to a major highway in our town, which means we’re close to everything, including both jobs that we possess and love.

I do have a new found love for my hometown of Samson, and one day, maybe in a few decades, though still probably never, I might go back. Maybe with The Lovely Steph Leann in 2020, maybe as a widower in 2061. And I do have a love for the people I left behind, be it Chris McCall or my other two Samson BFFs Tonya and Greg, and friends like Jason Howell (who I’m dying to spend some more time with) and Rona Mock and her husband Ryan (who I’m going to call for dinner in the next two weeks) and especially my mom, who will most certainly die in this town, probably in the next few years. I’ve already decided I’m going to make it a more frequent trip, perhaps once every two months, maybe once per month during football season…

..but in all my remembering where I come from, I’ll be careful not to forget where I am now. And where I am right now is the most blessed place I could be. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna click this laptop off and go upstairs and sleep next to The Lovely Steph Leann.

(one more authors note... when I finish and publish a post, which usually takes me forever, as The Lovely Steph Leann can attest, I read it on the actual website itself, usually to make sure it flows and posts correctly, is spaced correctly, et al. Tonight as I did this for Part IV, my website playlist played "When I Get Where I'm Going" by Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton. I thought it was kinda cool. Course, if this were 1993, "You Don't Bring Me Anything But Down" might've sufficed for my dinner guest. Ha!!)

Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Samson Blog Part III: High School Highs... and Lows

Thanks for coming back--I've already stopped off in Troy, visited Jennifer, run into a few old faces that I recognized and now its time to run into another, and re-visit the school that taught me how to... well, do whatever it is that high schools teach. Previous posts include...

Samson Blog Part I: "...Knee High to a Puddle Duck"
Samson Blog Part II: Tammy Ward & the Library Books


The brick sign that wasn't there when I was there

Back when I was in school, there was a middle school and a high school, though the lines between the two were very blurred. The building on the south part of the school was primarily junior high (at what point did they stop being called junior high and start only going as “middle school”? Is “junior high” a bad thing? Really?) leaving the north part as the high school, but the ball field was shared by both, the small business building in the middle was shared by both, the recess yard was shared by both…. Really, it was all one big school, 6th grade through 12th. Maybe 600 students. Might be more, might be less.

Some number of years ago, though, they built a new Middle School and placed it next to Samson Elementary, which was building in 1984. I only know this because I moved there in 4th grade, and it was just opened the previous month. We couldn’t lean on the walls, it was so new. Imagine telling a bunch of 9 year olds you can’t lean on the walls. Right.


With the middle school gone, Samson High School truly is just a high school. As I walked onto Broad Street, I noticed that a couple of the buildings where there, and a few were now gone… I can only guess they were gutted and torn down, probably a good thing. I walked onto the sidewalk that runs in front of the entire school, walking slowly to observe. Another teacher had just come out of one of the buildings, and said, “Can I help you with something?” I smiled and said, “No, thanks. I’m an alumnus, and I’m just checking out the school.” I added with a grin, “I thought it best to wait until all the students were out, so as not to be that creepy guy wandering around the campus.” She smiled and said, “Good idea.”

I stopped in front of the Samson High sign to snap a few pictures, and noticed a familiar face up ahead. She was with a young boy, and she moved between a furniture delivery truck and another group of people. I slowly made my way past the group, snapping more photos of the surrounding school monuments and scenery, but kept glancing up at her. Is that…? I mean, could that be…?

She said something to the group, they all chuckled, and she led the boy inside the school doors. I followed her, but when I went inside, she had already disappeared into the next set of double doors. Another teacher was there, looked up and asked, “Can I help you, sir?” I stopped, not taking my eyes off of the door, pointed and said, “Was that Renee?” She smiled and said, “Yes! Go through these doors and take a right. Mrs. Adams is on the left, you’ll see her door.”

Mrs. Adams? I thanked the kind lady and went through the doors. The school, for all its differences, still had the same look in the hallway. The floor was different, the lockers were bigger, the paint was newer, but this… this was Samson High School. I walked toward the first door, and saw the placard that said “Mrs. R. ADAMS”. I stared at the door for a minute, and then thought, “Holy crap, she’s a teacher.”

“So, uh, you got your name on the door and everything, huh? Think your somebody?” I asked, as I stood in the doorway, pointing toward the sign. Renee Carroll looked up from her desk, glared at me for a few seconds, then her face brightened. “Oh my gosh… d$!” she stood up, ran over to me and gave me a big hug.

Renee Carroll and I go way back, to… 1991? She was an 8th grader, I was a senior, and her step-father, Steve, worked as an excellent cook at The Wright Place Restaurant. Her mom, Carlene, also worked there for a time, and Renee washed dishes and helped out too. She had a crush on me. I don’t say that in vain, or in an arrogant assumption, I say that because she told me so. And as gently as I could, I told her I wasn’t interested in her. She didn’t talk to me for a month. I also remember she was obsessed with country group Alabama.

She looked great, her son Ryan is now 7 (or was it 9?), and she’s a teacher now at Samson High School. She has been teaching there for a while now, teaching all subjects to all grades at this point. Renee told me that there were plans for a memorial garden to be built behind the main school building, right outside her window, in honor of the victims of March 10th. We chatted a while longer, what I’d been up to, teachers that had come and gone (Mrs. Hutchison is retiring, it seems!) and who was still there. Mrs. Danley was still there. A few others had gone. Some had died.

We discussed Samson, how it was different, how it was the same, and Renee said the most amazing thing was that when she came back to teach, she went into the lunchroom… and it was so small! “I remember it being so much bigger, and now, it’s like, tiny. It was bizarre.”

It was great talking to her for a little while, and finally, we said our goodbyes. Who knows if and when I’ll see Renee Carroll Adams again? Hopefully soon.

I left the classroom, and as I rounded the corner, I locked eyes with Mrs. Danley. On her face was the now-familiar “Is that…?” expression, but I didn’t stop. I smiled and kept walking, right on out the back door of the main building, finding myself in front of the lunchroom. And as I peered into the window (it was locked), I could see a few new additions, notably a big cooler that said “DASANI” on it. But the big tiger painted on the wall was still there. And Renee was right… it was tiny. Did I really sit and have milk carton drink-offs with Chad Ward and Greg Avant right there? Unbelievably so. And there, on the opposite outside door of the lunchroom is the area that the freshman girls congregated—Chris McCall’s obsession Andrea Foreman, my first slow dance ever Angiejay (in this very lunchroom, by the way, but more on her in a minute), Manda Donaldson, Jennifer Herndon (yes, that one) and Stephanie Sheffield.

That slow dance was weird. It was, in fact, with Angiejay, who agreed to be my homecoming dance date, then bowed out because word spread all over school that we were going out. We danced to “Wanted” by Alan Jackson, and looking back, I think she did so because she felt obliged to do so, not because she wanted to. We were dancing close to Ryan Frary and Stephanie Sheffield, who were going out at the time, and Ryan leaned over and yanked my hand down to Angiejay’s bum. Luckily, I yanked it back in time to save the embarrassment, and though Stephanie smacked him, Ryan thought it was hilarious. Looking back, I do too.

Laughing to myself as I remember this monumental moment, I went down the sidewalk through the campus, passing the gymnasium, home of the 2 time defending girl’s basketball team, the Lady Tigers. The further I walk, though, the more I realize that yes, there is a new high school building… but most everything else on the grounds is exactly the same. I walk between the science building, where Mr. Holmes tried in vain to teach me Physics and Chemistry, and the Ag/Home Ec building, where I won top grade prizes for like, four straight terms…. In Home Ec, not Ag.

I stopped at the bandroom, and boy those memories came back as well. Renee told me that the last time the band was really, really strong was when we were in school. When I was a sophomore, we were 70+ strong, 6th through 12th grade, but over the years, the band has dwindled. It’s had it shares of highs and lows, but right now it was at a low point. Sad, really. The Blue and Gold rocked back in the day.

It was on those railings on the sidewalk leading to the door on the right that, in October of 1992, I waited outside for Angiejay, after the Homecoming Ballgame. She said already said yes a few nights ago. Then she sent someone (Tracy Lassiter?) out to tell me that "she would just meet me there". I was crushed. Am I still bitter? Not at all, it was 17 years ago, but its still fun to talk about. And the fact she rejected me on Facebook last year makes it all the more fun. Hence, the decision to make Angie Jay a villian in the book. Ha!

The tennis courts sat across the street. Samson was always too small to have a tennis team, but we did have courts. During my sophomore year, I became infatuated with Jennifer Capriati, a young tennis star, so I bought myself a 18 dollar racket (a huge sum when you are 15) and taught myself how to play tennis. Over the course of that year, I lost about 30 pounds, gained much leg strength and went through two pairs of tennis shoes—wore a hole slap into the soles of them. See, our court wasn’t grass, or clay or even a regular hard court, our court was asphalt and gravel. And there was a big sand pit right in the middle that you would slide through if you weren’t careful. The back fence was about four feet from the back baseline, so there was lots of slamming into the chain links, and the net was such that you had to hook it back onto the posts when you played. Sometimes the ball would go through the gap between the netting and the white border, so you had to argue over whether it was actually a Let or not. (you can read more of this, and some of the same, in a post from June 2006 called "Game Set Match", if you feel so inclined)

By my junior year, there were lots of people playing. I’d like to think I was at least partly responsible for the tennis resurgence from 1991 to 1993. Names like Ryan Hutchison, Juice Williams, Jason Lambert, Wade Rials, Bren Finch, and of course, Ryan Frary and myself—the Federer and Nadal of our day. For two years, we were gods of the court. Every single day, until the light was gone, and even then sometimes into the night, using the one single yellow light that shone on half the court. The summer between my junior and senior year, I collected $5 from 16 court regulars, bought some paint, went out in the hot July sun and painted lines on the court. Then we had ourselves a tennis tournament. And it was a beautiful thing.

You can barely see the yellow of the lines that were painted all those years ago. Some of the weeds might be the exact same, though. But this is the court we played on.

Now? The lines are faded away. The dirt is piled high in various parts of the court, the fence has bigger holes in it than before, the weeds grow tall through the asphalt, the post has an old plastic cup on top of it, and the net is nowhere to be found. Doesn’t matter, though, because where the net would go is taken up by a big greenhouse nursery sitting smack in the middle of the court. A messily handwritten note on the door of the greenhouse said, “If you need plants, call…”

The abomination that sits on our courts. Ryan (can't remember if it was Frary or Hutchison) and I actually scheduled a meeting and went to the mayor, asking for the council to look at devoting some money to renovate the tennis courts. There were only three courts and a few thousand tax dollars would be all that was needed to put up new nets, fix the light(s) and give it a light touch-up. They rejected us out of hand.

Sighing, and a piece of my soul now dead on that court with the knowledge that there would probably never be another Snuff City Invitational Tennis Classic, I walked back to the campus, and entered the football stadium. It was here on this very field that I graduated high school, coming now upon 16 years ago. They put in metal bleachers sometime around my junior year, maybe a year earlier, but that’s just for the home side. The visitors still have the old concrete bleachers, and they still look exactly the same.

I walk around the football field, past the concession stand that sits boarded up for the offseason, and just take it all in. Lots of memories here too. Marching saxophone in the band, chomping on stadium burgers and $1 M&M bags, sitting with Jason Howell and ALL of the guys admired Claudia Sorrells was in her majorette uniform, enjoying those late October/ early November Friday nights when the temperature is around 45 degrees… is there anything better than high school football in cold temperatures? Sipping on watered down hot chocolate that burns your tongue?

The grass is about six inches too high now, this being the offseason and daily care not necessary. Its Alva Hawke Stadium, though I have yet to figure out who Alva Hawke is. And I still don’t know the alma mater song, though I can reel off that fight song. Or could, at one time. There is a ton of junk piled under the bleachers—stadium lights, wood, trash, a small hauling trailer—and it just looks messy. I smile as I stand next to the chain link fence, a fence that 16 years ago I stood next to, wearing a hot blue uniform with a poofy feather thing jutting out of my hat, holding an alto saxophone, joking with Jason Howell and Kelli White, close to Chris McCall who kept stealing glances at Andrea Foreman, all while I was stealing glances at majorettes, while Jason stole glances--who am I kidding, he just plain stared--at Kelli White, all of us awaiting marching orders from drum major Tonya Windham, and wondering if I would actually keep in step this time around, and knowing the answer would be, probably not. But that’s okay. We marched on.

I haven’t picked up an alto saxophone in at least five years, and then it was only once. Before that, it was high school band. I've thought about picking it up again, memories of Kenny G songs still flowing through me head... I could actually play "Songbird" at one time. But, alas, I've also thought about learning how to play the mandolin I've owned for 8 years, and that hasn't happened either...

I stared out into the football field a while longer, making verbal notes into my voice recorder, discussing my own characters that are dancing around in my head and how a football field might come into play when Peter and Barrow are discussing what to do for homecoming. But that’s later, I think. I decided it was time to go, enough nostalgia for one day had been accomplished.

I walk back down the same sidewalk, pausing for a moment from talking into my voice recorder as an older gentlemen walked by. No sense in sounding stupid. Er. I make another walk around the school, out onto the front lawn and back down Broad, then Farmer Street. A few blocks later, I was back in my own home, sitting and talking with my dear mother again.

She’s addicted to judge shows…. She doesn’t care for Judge Judy, but Judge Judy comes on between Judge Joe Brown and some other judge, so she doesn’t bother to change the channel, she just sits and complains about how much she doesn’t like Judge Judy. Love my mom.

It's around 4pm, and I'm getting hungry. I've got an hour before dinner, though, one that should be fun. I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friends, and shake their hands.  I hope the Pea River is as blueish green as it has been in my dreams.

I hope.

And finally, the last part of The Samson Blog... Memories in a BBQ Dive

Samson Blog Part II: Tammy Ward & the Library Books

Continuing my 4 part series on my day visit to Samson, Alabama, my journey has already carried me through Troy, Alabama, where I went to college. That alone could be another 4 part series, and maybe one day I'll write it, but for now, I've walked through downtown, seen some of the aftermath of March's terrible day, and am now sitting in my own home.

Catch up with
Samson Blog Part I: "...Knee High to a Puddle Duck"


When we moved to Alabama in October 1984, we moved into a small yellow house on Johnson Street. For whatever reason, a year later, we decided to move across the street to a big white house with a monstrously big yard, still on Johnson Street, but now on the other side of Farmer Street. And then, a year later, they bought the house my mom lives in now, a small yellow house with a front porch, a small side yard and a half-acre backyard.

The first two homes I lived in, in Samson, Alabama. The one on the right is the one we moved into in 1984. The left is the one we moved into a year or two later.

It’s time to come clean, though. I grew up in a smoking home. My mom smokes. My dad, before he passed in 2000, smoked. My sisters smoke. The entire family is one big cancerous cell of cigarettes and ashtrays. How I survived without lung cancer covering my entire body for all the years I lived there is beyond me, venturing into the plan and Grace of God.

And here's the home I grew up. The front left window was my bedroom. I only snuck out once, in December of 1993. I walked around town. Went home. I lead a boring life.

I never understood how bad it was until I went to college, started washing my clothes and lived in a non-smoking environment. Dude, I smelled bad. Really. I have said before—I know I smelled gawd-awful after recess and in those days, you know, before boys discovered deodorant… and I still contend, I grow up in a clean smelling home and I get dates in high school.

I pulled up and came in through the front, with my mom very happy to see me. And the house smelled the same as ever. I spent some time with her, talking about the family, who’s doing what, who’s doing what where, who’s having another baby (somehow, I don’t have kids despite the fact my family is very, very fertile… or maybe they just can’t afford birth control, who knows), who’s working where, who went hunting, who’s going fishing next week, who’s finally divorced from his 2nd wife to be able to finally marry the 3rd, mostly because rehab went really well and things are better. You only think I’m kidding. They tried to make him go to rehab, but he said no, no, no.

After a little while, though, I had to go outside and clear my head and my eyes because they were watering. It’s hard for The Lovely Steph Leann when she comes down, too, because her head gets stopped up, she gets a bad headache, and truly her thin hair holds the smell for days.

I figured I would take a small stroll down to the Samson Public Library, the small building on the end of my block. I walked through four small front yards to get there, and remember how, in my very first day in Samson, Alabama, on October 24th, 1984, my cousin Terry took me down there, set me up with a library card account and I checked out two books… one was a kid’s joke book, and I cannot remember the other. Years later—and I mean years later, like 15 or more—I went in there and found that very same joke book and saw the same card was there, with only a few more names on it, separated by a couple of years each. Apparently, it wasn’t a very good joke book.

My first shock was that… Samson Public Library has computers! There are five or six along the wall, all hooked up to that new fangled interweb thingy they got going. I saw someone new behind the librarian’s desk, only at a cursory glance, and she was taking care of two library patrons. So, I sat down at the computer and pulled up the interweb, checked my email. Tried to get on Facebook but it must be blocked, as it took me to a search site. Clever them, I see.

The Samson Public Library

I walked around a little bit, and reflected on the very last time I was in this library. I was doing a paper for college, and had come home for the weekend. It wasn’t my senior year, I know that, but I can’t tell you if it was freshman, sophomore or junior, but it was at least 1996 or before. I took a table, had books and papers spread out, and actually used the Encyclopedia Britannica for it. I probably scored an A, because, well, I’m awesome.

I clicked off the computer, then took a stroll around the shelves—I’m not lying to you when I say that there are about 20 bookcases in the entire library, counting the ones against the wall. I didn’t see the Dewey Decimal cards, though, so that might be an improvement. The people that were being helped by the librarian finally walked out with their new books, and the librarian piped up, “Hey d$!”

I turned around, surprised at being recognized and there stood before me… Tammy Ward. “Well, hello Tammy,” I smiled. I walked over and gave her a hug and we began to chat, in the way that friends who haven’t seen each other but once since 1993 will sometimes do. We discussed kids, family, jobs, futures, pasts, and of course, the events of March 10th. She looked great, and it was a joy to see her there. She remembered me bringing The Lovely Steph Leann to our high school reunion in 2002, and asked about her and us, and I let her know that yes, there was an “us”.

We said our goodbyes, I gave her my info and blog address (because naturally, I want everyone to come to this page… otherwise, why do it, right?) and walked out into the yard. I strolled back home, visited with mom some more, and then adjourned to the front porch. There, on the front porch I stood for the better part of half an hour, just watching the traffic go by. For every sports car and Toyota Camry, you’d see a tractor humming down the road, for every small Ford pickup truck, you’d see another three times its size, covered in mud and grass and evidence that its used for more than just trips to Wal-Mart.

I looked up and noticed how low the front porch ceiling was. When I was a kid, I could jump with all of my might and barely touch it. This time, I laid my palm flat. Sometimes a car would slow as it passed, and I could see the driver glance my way in a, “Could that be…. No, can’t be…” sort of fashion, but none stopped. Across the street and to the left is a small day care, so the kids were running wild in the backyard, and what a great day for it.

Somewhere along the way, my mother has decided to collect wind chimes. I don’t think I’ve ever paid much attention to the sheer quantity of chimage on that porch until now. The sound of kids yelling and playing across the street was matched by what I counted as 11 wind chimes, with 44 individual noisemaking bars, all whipping around in a cacophony of dinging metal. It was on that very porch, at that very moment that I decided… being in Samson might not be so bad. Seriously.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intentions of packing my stuff, I have no reason to leave The Happiest Place in the Mall, I have no thoughts of discussing with The Lovely Steph Leann a way to make a life for us down in South Alabama, but I thought if something disastrous happened, if something crazy occurred, if something forced us—or me—to start over… Samson might not a bad place to be. Funny how I spent all those years waiting to get out of that town, another decade forgetting it existed, and then a stint on the front porch can make me re-think all of it.

Note: A few days after I wrote this entire blog post, all four parts, I had another stop on the d$ 2009 Reunion Tour when I met Stan McDuffie for lunch--having seen the guy once, in 2002, since we graduated, it was good to catch up on things. I discussed the possibility of going back one day, maybe, and he only sort of agreed. Reflecting upon this conversation, I agree. I am happy and content with where I am right at this moment, but going back wouldn't be the end of the world.

Without a word, I decided I’d take another stroll. I headed down Johnson Street until I came upon the next street over… and I always forget the name of it… Owens Street! I always avoided that road when I was a kid, because there was this big dog that lived there. He chased me when I was on my bike, so Lord knows I would never actually run down that road on foot. No dogs today though—I did, however, watch a little more carefully than anywhere else.

I walked the block down Owens Street, then cut a left onto Ripley, then strolling into the IGA supermarket. Bill Taylor has owned this place as long as I can possibly remember. This is the kind of place where my mother, in ill health, has called up there for a couple of groceries, and they would deliver it to her. Barbara, who has worked there as long as I can remember, is the one who went and got an absentee ballot for my mom to help her vote for the first time in her life. These are the kind of people that Samson breeds.

The IGA seems much smaller too, though really, I guess everything does. I bought a Co-cola and a Mounds bar, having not had lunch, and then I spent $10 on a magnetic car ribbon, one that says “THOUGHTS & PRAYERS 3/10/09” with a Tiger paw on the corner. All proceeds go to victims families, apparently. It’s on my car now.

It's $10 well spent

I left IGA, walking back down Ripley Street in the direction I had come, but instead of going right onto Owens to head home, I took a left on Owens, walking up to Broad Street. This is where Samson High School, home of the Fightin’ Tigers, sits.

Next... High School High... and Lows...