Jul 302013

Sometime in the next week or so, I’m going to begin a post series on love and marriage.

Conversation tonight called my attention to this post on marital fidelity, which was, at the time, a post that made me rather anxious.

I’m rather less nervous about it today, but it does embody a frankness that I intend to continue into the upcoming series.  I’m sufficiently deluded to believe that I can make a difference in the direction of Western civilization.

So stay with me, won’t you?

 Posted by at 11:24 pm
Jul 292013

WAAY-TV investigative reporter Shea Allen was fired late last week for a post she made on her personal blog.  Titled Confessions of a Red Headed Reporter, then No Apologies: Confessions of a Red Headed Reporter, it contained several “confessions,” mostly directly related to how she did her job.  Here is the list:

1. I’ve gone bra-less during a live broadcast and no one was the wiser.

2. My best sources are the ones who secretly have a crush on me.

3. I am better live when I have no script and no idea what I’m talking about.

4. I’ve mastered the ability to contort my body into a position that makes me appear much skinner [sic] in front of the camera than I actually am.

5. I hate the right side of my face.

6. I’m frightened of old people and I refuse to do stories involving them or the places they reside.

7. Happy, fluffy, rainbow stories about good things make me depressed.

8. I’ve taken naps in the news car.

9. If you ramble and I deem you unnecessary for my story, I’ll stop recording but let you think otherwise.

10. I’ve stolen mail and then put it back. (maybe)

I think more than half of this list is silly and of no consequence.  But I suspect it’s the entries that give me pause that gave WAAY pause.  Entries #2 and #6 make me think she’s not assigning proper importance to her journalistic credibility.  Entry #9 is even a bit farther down that road, with a splash of dishonesty.  And entry #10 is a federal crime.  The U.S. Postal Service has no sense of humor about stealing/tampering with mail.

Now here’s the part that gawker.com is reporting, and al.com is not.  WAAY management, upon learning of the blog post, first told her to take it down, and she did.  It is implied that that was the end of it.  It was only when she put it back up, with a defiant diatribe appended:

This post was taken down because I was momentarily misguided about who I am and what I stand for. To clarify, I make no apologies for the following re-post. It’s funny, satirical and will likely offend some of the more conservative folks. But it isn’t fake and its a genuine look into my slightly twisted psyche.

Here’s the thing, I’ve vowed to always fight for the right of free expression. It’s allowed, no matter what the profession. I pride myself in having earned the respect of many because I make no apologies for the truth and hold nothing back. I don’t fight for things because they serve me, I fight for them because they are right. Sources trust me because I am an unadulterated version of the truth. I won’t ever bend just because its popular to do so and I’m not bending now.

that she was terminated.

I have followed Ms. Allen on Twitter for some time, which is unusual, because I don’t generally keep up with local news personalities.  She’s witty and intelligent, and I suspect will recover from this.

But she needs to do some growing up.  You can’t be employed as a reporter, post something to the web describing yourself as a questionable reporter and perhaps even a criminal, and then be outraged when you’re canned.  She’s making a bit of racket about the ACLU and what-not, and I just don’t see how it’s at all complicated legally.

When you’re a public figure, there are compromises, and she is feeling the result of what seems to be a thoroughly reasonable market decision.

I suspect she’ll be wiser as a result.

 Posted by at 6:25 pm
Jul 282013

Here is that cool photo of Enterprise on Rideout Road that I mentioned in this post.

enterpriseonrideoutThis is coming south down Rideout, just past the fire station and almost to Martin Road, which is just barely not visible in the bottom of the frame.  The rocket park at about 2:00 in the image is just west of NASA building 4471.

 Posted by at 4:41 pm
Jul 272013

quintardDanette and I spent some time in Quintard Mall when I was down last weekend.

Quintard Mall has doubled in size since I left the Anniston-Oxford area in 1986.  But the original mall is still quite obvious to anyone who ever saw it.  Wow, it was tiny.  Unless you were deep in a store or something, it wasn’t even big enough to be out of earshot.  If you were out in the mall, and I was too, and I yelled for you, you’d hear me.

Nothing makes me feel more like I came from a small town than the high regard in which I held the mall.  Apart from something truly special and infrequent, like staying with Granny and Papaw in Panama City or going to an Alabama football game, going to the mall was as good as it got, man.  I remember thinking it was just magical when it was decorated for Christmas, with the garlands hanging from the ceiling and the motorized elves surrounding where Santa sat.  A few other thoughts:

  • I have very early memories of there being a Kroger in the mall, with an exterior entrance with big, white block letters.  Were grocery stores in malls ever a widespread thing?  Or was this an oddity of Quintard Mall?
  • It was dark in the early days.  The floor was polished concrete, and it just never lit up that much inside.  It was certainly not like the norms today.
  • There was a toy store/five-and-dime called Elmore that sat just about where they blew the wall out and expanded.
  • Radio Shack is still where Radio Shack was when I was seven years old.  I stood there for a second and thought “yup, I remember a TRS-80 being set up right here.”
  • Griffin’s was an ice cream parlor that always kept five or six arcade games.  I remember playing Xevious and Dragon’s Lair there for the first time.
  • Mom managed Brooks, a women’s clothing and accessory store, for a few years.  (The absence of the apostrophe is accurate, if incorrect.)  Her coworkers included a striking and tall black woman named Jackie, and a cute, slightly pudgy blonde named Deanna who haunted my fantasies for months.  (The initial explosion of puberty was a torturous time for a boy’s mom to work in fashion retail.)
  • I remember going in Newsom’s Music Center, the record store, in its old, west-side location and looking at the party lighting (you know, lava lamps, those fuzzy fiber-optic lights, and so forth).  It seemed like they were the same ones all the time, like no one ever bought one.  It smelled like Hubba Bubba in there, or maybe Hubba Bubba smelled like whatever that smell was.  I remember buying the 45 of “Words” by Missing Persons there.  I also specifically remember holding Ozzy Osbourne’s Speak of the Devil and thinking that must be jam in his mouth.
  • I remember perusing the Dungeons & Dragons display in Gateway Books frequently, periodically picking up a new module or a Dragon magazine.  I can remember someone making a mistake in ordering or shipping and there being perhaps 50 copies of U2: Danger at Dunwater on the shelf.

One of my favorite quirky blogs, Sky City: Southern Retail Then and Now, has a comprehensive write-up on Quintard Mall, with some great photographs (including one of an original MALL ENTRANCE sign that I remember from my childhood, and that likely dates to the mall’s birth).  I’d still like some photographs of the mall interior from then, though.  I’ve periodically blegged, with no fruit, but I’ll do so again:  anyone have any photos of the mall from, say, 1970-1984?  I would love to see them.

Until we meet again, Quintard Mall.  I’ll spend more money next time.

 Posted by at 6:39 pm
Jul 262013

loneranger“There’s a summer movie I want us to all see,” Lea said.

This is an event, because something that appeals to all of us is rare.  “What is it?” I said.

The Lone Ranger,” she replied.

“Great!  I saw the trailer and thought it looked awesome.”

So we commenced waiting the three weeks or so I always wait to avoid opening crowds, and the bad reviews started piling up.  It’s a boondoggle.  It’s needlessly complex.  It’s bloated.  I don’t know that I’ve read a good one anywhere.

Stay with me for another few minutes and you will have read a good one.

Westerns have never been a go-to genre for me, but I enjoyed The Lone Ranger growing up.  It was put together well.  It felt like a complete show that happened to appeal to children, as opposed to a children’s show.

This film is rather more ambitious than the 60-year-old TV show, of course.  It wants to reboot a fondly-remembered franchise, but it also wants to infuse it with summer action-comedy blockbusterliciousness, with snappy dialogue and effects scenes that were both unimaginable in the ’50s.

That should be a “more than it can chew” kind of setup, and mostly, it isn’t.  The movie works.

The chemistry between Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp is generally excellent.  I wondered how an under-billed title character would do with someone of Depp’s caliber, just as I wondered about Nicholson and Michael Keaton in the same arrangement in Batman.  There was nothing to worry about here.  Hammer did a good job with an earnest portrayal, moving from borderline naïveté to an eventual purposeful confidence convincingly.  Depp, who can’t not excel, didn’t get the better of him enough to register in the end.

William Fichtner’s Butch Cavendish is an outstanding villain.  He’s a bit grisly for young children, though, and I think is most of the reason this comes in at PG-13 and not PG.  Heed the rating.  It earns it.  This is not a movie for five-year-olds.

I feared a too-much plot, which is settling in as customary these days.  I didn’t get one of those either.  There’s a compelling narrative, boosted by excellent production, that (surprise!) uses its 2:29 running time effectively.  If you know anything about my movie tastes, you know that I tighten the screws hard on a movie that thinks it needs more than two hours to give me its payload.  Go as long as you want, but you better have a good reason for it.

I sit here and tell you today that at two hours and twenty-nine minutes, The Lone Ranger is not too long.

The action is well-done all the way through.  It’s a CGI-fest, of course, and there are a couple of visual orgasms.  But it’s never shoveled at you so relentlessly that it feels gratuitous.  I won’t say too much more about the climax because I try not to do spoilers, but there is an admirable bit of restraint that leads to a fabulous payoff in the final half-hour of the movie.

I will pick two nits, and they are nits in that they do not damage the presentation of the movie significantly.  The more minor of the two is that there is a bit of the supernatural that feels unnecessary.  It’s not clock-you-in-the-melon like 300, but it’s just a place the movie didn’t need to go to be effective.

The one that bothered me a bit more is that I think the early relationship between The Lone Ranger and Tonto was a bit heavy-handed in its depiction of the former as a bumbling hayseed and the latter as a pillar of wisdom.  A lot of the time it worked, but some of the time it didn’t.  A bit more restraint would have made it better.

I understand that Disney has badly miscalculated the expected demographic of this movie’s attendees, and that they’re skewing much older than they projected.  I did see two couples in their 70s.  I hope there was enough nostalgia for them to enjoy it.

It’s long, loud, and just a bit gory.  It’s also a classic summer movie experience, and I’m delighted that we took the chance and went.  I tell you with no irony or winking:  if you’ve seen the trailer and you think you’ll like it, you will.

There is a lot of negative quack-quack-quacking going on in American reviews of this film, and it seems to amount to “yeah, this is bad.  Look.  Everyone knows it’s bad.  So it’s bad.”

It’s not.  It’s good.  We’ll own it on Blu-ray.  We’re pulling for it so that there will be sequels.


 Posted by at 7:02 pm
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