Jan 122017
  • Congratulations to Clemson on winning its first football national championship since 1981. I’d have rather Alabama won it, of course, but of all the teams who could have it instead, I may mind Clemson the least. I’m very happy for my long-suffering friend Cheryl!
  • Aaron asked me last night “how long ’til IndyCar?” Too long, buddy. Too long. (Two months from today.)
  • When I was in the fourth grade the Atari 2600 was out there, but hadn’t quite barnstormed the world yet. Dedicated handheld (or occasionally tabletop) electronic games were at least as popular—the Mattel Electronics sports games, Merlin, Simon, things like that. I remember these toys costing $30-50 each in 1979 dollars. That’s $100-$166 today. Wow. I was going to say our folks were nuts sending eight- and nine-year-olds all over creation with these things, but we’re doing the same thing today. Even the inflation works.
  • We missed our first Upward Saturday on a day that it not only didn’t snow, but was actually sunny for most of it. Now it was 22º—but we don’t play outside. Hmph. We’ll get going this weekend.
  • I don’t much care for this rainy/cloudy mid-60s vibe we have going right now. It’s quite un-January. Dissonant.
  • I’ve been intrigued by the idea of subscription boxes, in which you pay a small-but-not-insignificant amount of money to subscribe to monthly shipments that contain…well, you’re not exactly sure, but there are different ones for different interests, and the ones that persevere tend to have good stuff in them. Last month I was finally stimulated enough by one to try it out. My first shipment should be here next week. Report forthcoming.
  • TwoDots is my favorite silly little phone game in a long time.
 Posted by at 3:05 pm
Jan 032017

I was born in Decatur, but my family moved to Anniston before I was a year old. So it’s the first home I can remember. I took some time last month to drive around and look. Here are a few through-the-windshield shots of some innocuous-looking locations that are full of memories for me. (Click image for larger.)

This is the first shopping center I can remember. The grocery store used to be Windsor’s, where a personable young man named Roger put up the produce. (Jenny wanted to be Roger for Halloween one year.) It was Golden Springs Pharmacy on the south end. I can’t pull the pharmacist’s name in, but he was a very nice man with a big wave of hair right over his forehead. (Think Donald Trump but with a normal person’s sense of restraint.)

Driving north on Sand Rock Road. There were numerous bike trails straight ahead and to the right when I was young. This is also just about exactly where Brian and I nearly caught the woods on fire one night. We finally got it stomped out, and I had to throw the jeans I was wearing away because they had char marks on them. I was scared for months that my mom would ask me what happened to them.

This is driving up Pecanwood Drive on the way to my house (the white one on the left). This seemed like the longest, steepest hill in the world when I was a kid—like, maybe one time in five I’d walk my bicycle up it instead of ride. In reality, it’s barely 300 yards top to bottom, and the slope is gentle until just past my house. I didn’t park and walk around the neighborhood on this trip, but it feels so small. It’s like traipsing around in a model train layout.

This curve on Coleman Road is the site of the only serious traffic accident I was ever in. I was one of four kids ejected from the bed of a Ford Courier pickup when it spun and overturned in the ditch (where that distant guard rail is now). From skid marks and the pickup’s final position, police estimated the pickup speed at 60 mph when the driver lost control. It could have been so much worse. Of the six kids in the pickup (two in the cab, four in the bed), only one was even admitted to the hospital. (She had to be extricated because the wreckage had trapped her right leg.) Four of us were treated and released in the ER, and my stepbrother, who was the lightest and had been thrown the farthest (into underbrush instead of pavement), didn’t even go to the hospital. To this day I can remember the sights and sounds of flying through the air after leaving the vehicle but before I hit the road. If I could unload a single memory, it might be that one.

This was a barren field of clay for the first 12 years of my life. It sprouted a Winn Dixie when the one on 78 that was destroyed in the 1983 tornado didn’t return. There was a Harco Drugs on the east end of this shopping center, and I spent a fair bit of time in there. Among the employees was a 35ish brunette who wore too much makeup and smelled really good. She cranked my tractor (not that it takes much for a 13-year-old boy). I can remember buying Heart’s Private Audition on vinyl in there, as well as some cassette storage boxes that I’m still using.

It’s surreal that these locations are only 100 miles or so from me. Supercharged with my excellent memory for detail, they’re really powerful experiences. They seem so much more distant and exotic than something to which a two-hour car ride permits exposure.

 Posted by at 11:13 pm
Dec 222016

I don’t think “Baby It’s Cold Outside” was in my consciousness at all until this year’s hubbub over its lyrics. I just heard some version of it on the radio and was surprised at how banal it is—not just lyrically, but musically. How did this become a Christmas standard in the first place? Lea, the boys, and […]

 Posted by at 3:51 pm

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