Sep 192014

I was at lunch with a friend of mine once, and she wrote that on a paper napkin ring.

aornrNote that it’s a Mozzarella’s napkin ring, so there’s a good timeline indicator. How long has that location sat idle at Madison Square Mall? It’s been a decade, at least. So it’s even plausible that said lunch took place in the 20th century.

She moved to Seattle a few years ago, but I’ve never forgotten the lesson of the day. I won’t claim I always live up to it, but I think it’s a good individual guiding principle—professionally, personally, and spiritually.

Enjoy your weekend.

 Posted by at 7:43 am
Sep 182014
  • My friend Amanda, aka The Dining Dragon, has extensively redesigned her site and begun its second life as Huntsville Eats. Go check it out.
  • I thought it was kind of cool that the new U2 album was free to iTunes users, but then I learned that you just got it, man. There was no opt-in. That’s creepy.
  • I looked for a showtime for the Sin City sequel, thinking there might be a long lunch in my near future. Guess what? It’s not playing anywhere near here, and has totally tanked at the box office. I guess a bright spot is that I may have the Blu-ray sooner.
  • Next month will introduce a “kids edition” of its Fire HD tablet. It comes with a 2-year, no-questions-asked replacement warranty. Am I overly cynical to believe that a goodly number of these will find their way to construction sites?
  • Well, life without artificial sweeteners is interesting. I’m down to either unsweetened tea or water in a restaurant. I’m using a quart of lemon juice a week at home adding it to water.
  • Alabama and Auburn both have games this week that should provide a little more clarity. I think Auburn underestimates Kansas State tonight at its peril. And Alabama? They’re 3-0 against mostly air, and Florida is stumbling into Bryant-Denny after needing all it had to beat Kentucky in overtime at the Swamp. Sounds like a classic trap scenario to me.
  • It’s officially football weather. Only just, but it’s here.
 Posted by at 6:30 am
Sep 172014

Went to Monaco Pictures last night with Dad and clan BamaDan to catch Guardians of the Galaxy. (Fun film.) I hadn’t been to the north end of Bridge Street in some time. All of the structure for the new parking deck adjacent to Belk appears to be in place.


Now given my longstanding affection for Madison Square Mall and my contempt of the (in my view, unnecessary) sadistically slow decay it is experiencing, I’m perhaps a bit predisposed to dislike the idea of closing the Madison Square Belk to open this one. And there is the fact that Bridge Street, being a particularly heinous example of a peoplequarium, had a lot of winning over to do with me in the first place. (It’s been open seven years; can you believe that?)

Still, I’d made my peace with the place, and mostly even on its terms. Yes, it looks like a shopping area at Walt Disney World. No, there’s not much in here I want to buy. But it’s a nice place to walk, the best place to see a movie in town, and it’s not too hard to find a pleasant meal either.

That said, this new construction is abominable. It’s a dissonant monstrosity. It feels as if Bridge Street is suddenly right next to the interstate—and I don’t mean conveniently located, I mean directly in the space surrounded by the exit ramp and the overpass. “East Germany with nicer cars,” Dan and I mused together, which prompted a few Gotcha! quotes. (Mmm, Linda Fiorentino. Meeoooowwwrrr.)

Bridge Street had charm. It was corporate and contrived, but it was done well enough to win you over, at least somewhat. Now, they might as well build a roof over the place and be done with it.

 Posted by at 7:59 am
Sep 162014

Believe it or not, we’re closing on a quarter of the season gone already. It’s the shortest one in big-time sports, folks. There are still a lot of unknowns, but some things are coming into focus.

I published 20 predictions just before the first game of the season. Let’s see how I’m doing so far, on a scale of Lock It In to Howler:

  • Akron wins enough to lose Terry Bowden. He’ll have a better job next year. (Status: Leaning Lock It In. Akron is playing solid defense.)
  • Alabama wins the SEC. I think the quarterback issue settles itself, the o-line jells, and it’s off to the races. (Status: Flip a Coin. Even with the offensive fireworks, I just don’t know. The secondary and special teams are both closer to wobbly than dominant.)
  • Auburn returns to form. That means 8-4 or so, with a solid loss to Alabama. Welcome back. (Status: Leaning Howler. Auburn looks just fine so far. If they win 10 games this year, I’ll get on the Gus Bus.)
  • Clemson ends six years of frustration and beats South Carolina. Reserve the Boom Boom Room now, Tigers. (Status: Leaning Howler. It’s an error to make too much of results against common opponents, but the Georgia games look pretty clear.)
  • Florida wins nine games, and Muschamp saves himself. Lest you think that’s too much of a rebound, go reexamine what happened to the Gators last year. They were annihilated by injuries in a way I’ve never seen. (Status: Leaning Howler. Calling upon your last bit of gumption to finally put Kentucky away at the Swamp does not instill confidence.)
  • Florida State does not repeat. In some quarters this team is practically anointed for ’14, like why should we bother playing the games? Yes, most of the team is back, but FSU won’t sneak up on anyone this year. I see three games on their schedule they could lose. (Status: Leaning Lock It In. However else FSU looks, they look vulnerable.)
  • Georgia slits its own throat and fires Mark Richt. Talk about “getting over the hump” intensifies after a closer-than-it-should-have-been win. Then, Georgia loses a game that can plausibly be blamed on bad coaching, and Georgia sends one of the best coaches in the league packing. (Status: Leaning Lock It In. There are several ways to blame dropping the Carolina game on bad coaching.)
  • Hawaii fires Norm Chow halfway through the season. He seemed a very promising head coach candidate, but he’s been awful. He doesn’t make it to November. (Status: Leaning Howler. Signs of life from the Warriors so far.)
  • Louisville keeps Bobby Petrino all year. Probably next year, too, and then this filthy snake’s contrition is once again overwhelmed by ambition and greed. (Status: Lock It In. Sometimes there is redemption. In this case, a snake is a snake is a snake.)
  • LSU loses three games for the third year in a row. Grumbling intensifies. (Status: Flip a Coin. LSU’s games have been perhaps less revelatory than anyone else’s in the league.)
  • Mississippi State wins nine; loses Dan Mullen. It’s a favorable schedule with nearly everyone back from last year. Coach gets an offer he can’t refuse. (Status: Leaning Lock It In. Solid team on the ground. I think Mullen takes an offer this year.)
  • Ole Miss underachieves. Absolutely everyone is higher on the Rebels than I am, it seems. They’ve lost five conference games in each of Hugh Freeze’s two seasons, and that sounds about right for the third one too. (Status: Flip a Coin. The Rebels look good so far against subpar competition. What’s that mean? Exactly.)
  • Penn State wins 10 games in James Franklin’s debut season. The schedule is favorable, and Coach Franklin is the real deal. No mere mortal puts up back-to-back nine-win seasons at Vanderbilt. (Status: Lock It In. The restoration of the postseason is icing. The Nittany Lions challenge for the league title.)
  • Tennessee goes bowling. Still think running Fulmer off was a good idea? Nevertheless, signs of life in Knoxville. (Status: Leaning Lock It In. Even with the very young lines, it still looks like the year UT started climbing back to me.)
  • Texas overachieves. Lots of folks are high on Charlie Strong, but there’s a lot of “he’s gonna need time” chatter too. Nonsense. Texas wins 10 games this year. (Status: Howler. Might not even have a winning season.)
  • Texas A&M finishes below .500. Yes, Manziel and Evans mattered that much, nearly wholly compensating for a rotten Aggie defense. But they’re gone. The decline is steep. (Status: Howler. Nice touch for the kid QB to break Manziel’s passing yardage game record right out of the chute, wasn’t it?)
  • Vanderbilt gets back to a bowl, but not by much. I think 7-6 would be a tremendous year for the ‘Dores. (Status: Howler. Anchor down…way down.)
  • Washington State is the surprise of the Pac-12. I think the Cougars could start as strongly as 5-1, on the way to 8-5 or so. (Status: Howler. That 5-1 start I tossed out there might actually be as bad as 2-4.)
  • The playoff structure generates substantial controversy. There were holes in the BCS paradigm that aren’t closed nearly enough in this Way Forward. Five undefeated teams? A major strength-of-schedule fracas? I don’t know, but something. (Status: Lock It In. Storm brewing. Hyper-scrutiny of committee members’ behavior is all of the context you need.)
  • Your national champion is: wow, who knows? I see as much potential for Alabama as anyone in the SEC to put it all together and hit overdrive. But, I think this could be a really strong Pac-12 year too. No Big Ten team has the horses for it all the way to the end. The Big 12 eats its own enough to remove itself from contention. From the ACC, it’s the Seminoles or no one, and I think they don’t quite get there. I have to say something definitive, and with Alabama plausibly in the mix, how do I pick against them? I’ll go Alabama 38, Oregon 27. (Status: Flip a Coin, but I said as much in the prediction, didn’t I?)
 Posted by at 11:25 am
Sep 142014

I have a few music videos recorded from Hit Video USA, which was channel 41 on Cable Alabama when we moved to the Huntsville area when I was 15 years old.

Hit Video USA has a place in my heart forever, because it’s emblematic of just how small-town my upbringing had been to date. I thought our cable lineup right after we moved was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me. You mean these channels go up to 70-something? In Anniston, our top channel number was 22. You got to channels 14 through 22 by putting the TV on channel 3, then pushing a mechanical button on a separate converter box. Remote control? Pish-tosh.

What else? I couldn’t believe we had such a great mall just down the road. I thought the Olive Garden was beyond amazing. Hey, look—an actual Porsche dealership. Remember Carriage Motors at Drake and the Parkway?

I remember stopping in there shortly after I got my driver’s license, hoping to score some sales literature with large, high-quality photos. Realizing that a kid in jeans in a ten-year-old Celica wouldn’t look like a serious prospect, my story was that a friend of mine had just come into some money, and I was out researching new cars for him. (Perfect! What could go wrong?) The salesman was polite, and actually did give me a little tri-fold brochure. I think I still have it somewhere.

I’ll probably never be particularly well-traveled, which means that through some lenses, I’ll never be well-rounded. That’s fine. Those who would make such judgments are often the same folks who would instantly write me off for my deep love of Alabama anyway.

I think I do all right most of the time. But in August 1986, there was a bit more “hayseed come to the big city” about me than I’d have cared to admit.

 Posted by at 11:12 pm is using WP-Gravatar