Tag Archives: idiots

Forget the Mayans; REAL Evidence of the Apocalypse

Proof positive we are a country of lunatics.

Proof positive we are a country of lunatics.

Folks, lots of people out “there” are completely convinced the world is going to end on December 21, 2012. If correct, we’ve got about 15 days left to go. Personally, I think these guys have the facts straight, but that’s not the point of this post. I’m now convinced the world is coming to an end sooner than later and it’s not because an ancient (and dead) civilization brilliant enough to follow the stars but too dense to invent the wheel says so. I’m also not worried about the polar bears or the end of the Gulf Stream because we aren’t going to live long enough for that to happen. No, gentle readers, I am convinced the world is going to end before schedule because America, the land I love, has been taken over by bands of raving lunatics and, no, I don’t mean Republicans. I am talking about “collectors” in general and collectors of Hallmark “Keepsake” Ornaments in particular.

Budge and I buy a few ornaments from Hallmark each year before Christmas. We seldom buy more than three and we always buy at least one based around the year being prominently displayed. We’ve done this ever since we’ve been married and we’ve got a beautiful collection of ornaments for our tree. Now this year was the first season in four years we’ve put up our tree, and I’ll tell that story soon, but not now. In celebration, we splurged on a couple more ornaments than usual. Now understand, every ornament we have in our three Rubbermaid 55 Quart Snap Top Tubs goes on our tree. We don’t buy “extra” ornaments for an “investment” because they are “collectable.”  If I want an investment, they make these things called “stocks and bonds.” Unfortunately for our country, I may have to change that philosophy.

One ornament we picked up this year was a miniature replica of the “Moose Mug” prominently featured in the Christmas classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Any killjoy Scrooges in the crowd, please keep your comments to yourselves as I am well aware the movie contains crude humor and bright blue language; the fact is, I don’t care. The movie is hysterical and a lot closer to the modern American Christmas than It’s a Wonderful Life ever was. I also happen to know Christmas Vacation is the favorite Christmas movie of my 1st-cousin-in-law Ashley, who not only is one of the purest, sweetest, and most Christlike young women I know, but also happens to be married to my oldest 1st cousin, Zach who, despite his surroundings in his early years, is a youth pastor as well as the purest, sweetest, most Christlike young man. If Zach will allow Ash to watch the uncut Christmas Vacation DVD snorting with laughter, I refuse to feel guilty.

But I digress.

Two years ago, we bought the ornament memorializing the scene in the movie where Clark finally gets all the lights on his house to glow simultaneously. After hanging the moose mug right next to the Griswold house I got on eBay’s online auction site to see if I could find the other two ornaments in the “series” from Hallmark. In less than 30 seconds, I found over twenty of the first ornament in the group — Cousin Eddie’s RV, circa 2009. Once I saw what they were going for, I didn’t even bother looking for the station wagon with the huge Griswold Christmas tree strapped to the top.

The CHEAPEST “Cousin Eddie’s RV” listed was over $100 dollars! The one in the image at the top of this post was at $215 and the reserve price hadn’t been met. I saw MANY going for OVER $300. Please, read that again slowly. Three. Hundred. Dollars. For a hunk of plastic resin made and assembled in Sri Lanka.  A family in sub-Saharan Africa could live a year off what these people are willing to pay for a PLASTIC CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT THAT IS NOT EVEN FIVE YEARS OLD!!! It’s not like it’s a rare painting by one of the “Old Masters.” It’s a freaking ORNAMENT for a TREE.

Folks, I’m not going to go on and on about this because there’s really no need to. The evidence is plain. When we’ve reached the point where people line up to give $300 dollars OR MORE for a small chunk of painted plastic churned out by children in a sweatshop factory located in a country 97% of the people using eBay couldn’t find with a GPS, a globe, and Google Earth, we are beyond the point of no return; we have converted the movie Idiocracy from a wonky comedy to a documentary and made the late Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron” a work of true prophecy.

We. Are. Doomed. and we deserve to be.

So, keep those feet clean for the time we’ve got left and remember I love y’all so take care of yourselves!

Ten Years or Another Lifetime? Most Nights, I Don’t Know.


Read ’em and weep. I know I did.

I was on my way to being very chipper and upbeat this morning until I looked at the calendar and saw the date was October 23. I had almost forgotten . . . the key being ALMOST.

Ten years ago this afternoon, at 1:00 PM to be precise, life handed me the mother of all lemons. Actually, that’s a little too “cutesy.” The long story is ten years ago this morning I took one of the Magnificent 7, which is my euphemism for the seven events that radically changed my life for the worse. Each of the seven were hammer blows against my emotional well-being and each of the seven — in seven different ways — shattered me mentally and emotionally as easily as a cinder block dropped from a highway overpass will shatter a vehicle’s windshield and with about as much warning. Ten years ago today, following a short and slanderous hearing at 301 Camperdown Way, I was summarily and officially dismissed from my teaching post at Woodmont High School.

The short story is I was lied to and about, publicly humiliated, then fired from teaching. I’d been exiled from the one place where I’d normally felt safest, happiest, and strongest. For the first time in my life, I had been kicked out of school.

I plan to post all the documents I still have from the hearing and the aftermath. When I do, you can read them for yourselves. I don’t have the mental energy to type out that story here. I love this blog. It’s not much, but it’s mine and I’ve tried to steer clear of controversy and painful memories, but to deny the scars is to deny the events which caused them and any event that makes you seriously question whether or not you really want to go on living in a world where things like this can happen to you is much too important to be ignored.

I haven’t had many things happen to me that have affected me as much or as long as getting fired did. It was two years before I was able to get back into teaching for good and I wouldn’t have gotten a break then except my alma mater needed an English teacher and the assistant principal had been my Geometry teacher and the principal had student taught my senior class in something or other. They knew me personally so they didn’t really look at anything from “The File.”

It wasn’t the same though. For one thing, Thomas Wolfe was absolutely right when he said, “You can’t go home again.” Teaching in what had been my AP English classroom in my senior year forced me every day for 180 straight days to confront ANOTHER one of the Magnificent 7 so when a library job opened up one district over, I took it.

So, it’s been ten years and the pain is just as fresh in my mind now as it was then. I can still taste the metallic tang of pure adrenaline fueled fear in my mouth when I think about the hearing. I can still see the faces of the “witnesses.” More than anything though, I can still hear the thunderous silence of the people I had called friends and colleagues for almost nine years. I had helped these people in more ways than I can imagine. I’d tried to be there for them, but when I was strung up and dangling, none of them . . . NOT A SINGLE ONE bothered to vouch for my character.

I remember leaving the district office with Budge in tears and Mama in a rage like I hadn’t seen on her face since I was a third grader and Ray Bates’ mother (God rest her soul) grabbed me by the collar and shook me because I had finally stood up to Ray’s bullying. People have asked me if I was angry and I always tell them I was too concerned with keeping Mama and Budge from getting locked up to be angry. I just wanted to get home.

Thirty minutes after leaving the pillory, I went back to the school and to the room I’d called home for so long. It was a mess because the string of subs who had kept the class during my six weeks suspension while I awaited a hearing hadn’t been able to control my hellions or my brilliant AP History students. While I was gathering my things, the assistant principal who had been the main “detective / witch hunter” for my case came into the room and asked me “So how’d things go?” I still thank God and 300 mg of Effexor CR for not decking her in her smug little mouth right then. As it was, I snatched my posters from the wall, took a few folders from my filing cabinet, and collected my most prized belongings from my beautiful desk that my friend Brian Ashley had helped me restore five summers before , then I walked out.

I’ve never been back.

Now as a sorry excuse for a Christian, I do not believe in karma, but sometimes it is tempting when I consider this. None of the three students whose complaints against me triggered the whole debacle ever graduated from high school. The principal who threw me under the bus didn’t make it through the year herself but was dismissed in disgrace partly because parents complained to the district office about her attending home football games about “two and a half sheets to the wind” as we say in the country. The superintendent who was such a jerk over the entire thing was fired by the school board within a year, partly over allegations of misconduct with a couple of female principals and partly for just basically being an ass of the 33rd degree. Finally, the district lawyer who prosecuted my case was fired and arrested a few years later after a district computer technician found alleged child pornography on the computer in the lawyer’s office. The child porn charges were eventually dropped because no one could prove the boys were underage, but the computer crimes stuck and he may still go to jail.

Coincidence or karma? You decide.

Love y’all. Keep the faith and the feet clean.

They’re K5, Dude; Chill Out


The indefatigable Sea Lions returned to the win column today after a rain out last week. What made this morning’s victory especially enjoyable was our competition. For the first time all year, Coach Thomas and I finally got to play a team whose coach shares the same philosophy about Upward Soccer as we do — we’re all here to have a good time, learn a little about soccer, and enjoy some sunshine.

I wish he could get such admirable sentiments across to the rest of the coaches in the league.

I am not the smartest and certainly not the wisest of men, but I am somewhat observational and one thing I have seen at every level of sports I have ever participated in as a player, coach, or spectator is take-it-to-the-bank guaranteed — any team is a DIRECT reflection of its coaching staff, be it a staff of one or twelve. Simply put, if the coach is a jerk, most of the team will be jerks too, with the opposite being thankfully true as well.

Take our first game for instance. We were way overmatched. The opposing team had athletes, not players. Sometimes, that happens in randomly assigned teams, but what doesn’t happen is a team of K5 and 1st graders who were out for blood and victory. This bunch didn’t try anything but scoring. Each of their seven players was an athletic prodigy. I won’t be at all surprised to see any of the seven playing some sport at the pro level in ten to fifteen years. What was obvious to me by the first water break was this group’s mentality was to stomp us flat on Saturday . . . they could learn about Jesus tomorrow. Their coach was on the field (allowed and encouraged in Upward sports) berating any player who happened to lose possession of the ball to one of our little ones. We lost by a lot but there’s only one problem with that


Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of these people who thinks everyone needs a trophy and life isn’t about winners and losers. I believe we need leagues where the goal IS winning so kids whom that matters to have a place to go. Upwards, however, isn’t that place. Here, everybody — by rule — gets equal playing time, everybody gets stickers after the game, and — most of all — everybody has a devotion at practice and at halftime of all the games. These leagues are supposed to foster what their name implies UPWARD focus. The games are supposed to be all about instruction in the sport and learning about Jesus.

Not many of the coaches seem to have gotten that memo even though Ms. Becky stressed the point many times at the organizational meeting before we even got our teams. Besides, I believe if your self-esteem and worth as a man depends AT ALL on the score of a 36 minute soccer game between children just barely old enough to stay up til dark during the week, you have issues they make several nice pills for.

Take our last game two weeks ago. The coach of the other team was INSANE. I’ve never been so happy to win a game. He was a Rule Nazi who didn’t know the rules. For example, he called Coach Thomas’ daughter for being offsides and took the ball away from her.  If this maniac had read his rulebook, he would know this league DOESN’T HAVE OFFSIDES!! We only play 4 on 4 at a time and the fields are the size of a big living room. Goalkeeping isn’t even allowed so how in the world can someone be offsides? Lauren was crushed — and crushed needlessly. Thankfully, Thomas is a much better man than I or the league would be short one coach.

This week was nice though. The opposite coach was a big bear of a guy recently moved down from Pennsylvania. I knew he was different immediately because of two important missing pieces of his equipment. First, he didn’t wear sunglasses and second, he didn’t have on a visor like the Second Coming of Steve Spurrier. He smiled constantly. His team lacked a few players at the very start (pretty common actually) but he insisted we play our 4 on his 3. Thankfully a fourth player showed up for him just at kickoff and his whole team was there by halftime.

He was great. He helped OUR players just as much as his team. When his team scored he cheered and high-fived everyone BUT when OUR team scored a goal he ALSO high-fived and cheered them as well. Our kids noticed the difference as well, which is something EVERYONE needs to remember. Kids are the greatest judge of character in the world. They can spot a phony or a faker in a skinny minute and they WILL call you out. Any time you see players our kids’ ages hugging their coach, you know he must be doing something right. When it was time for the halftime “Sunday School lesson” he sat with his team and constantly tapped and patted to keep them quiet and attentive to the speaker. Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep SEVEN itty bitties still and quiet for a seven minute lesson? He did it though.

So if you lead children, remember — they are children, not little adults. Let them have fun and go easy on the pressure and nit-picking. The “real world” will be slapping them in the face soon enough so allow them some joy while they can enjoy it!

Love y’all and keep those feet clean . . . and warm! Fall is here!

I Hope That Was A Great Hamburger, Mr. Magoo!!


This car has similar crash damage to the Impala Mama was driving. If the car hadn't been so big . . .

Car wrecks loom large in my family history. I told y’all the story of how my beautiful first car was destroyed in a wreck, and that was far from the worst wreck to touch my loved ones. When Mama was 17, she was in a head on collision that very nearly killed her, which means I wouldn’t be here either. All she remembers about the wreck is pulling out of the gas station in Gray Court. The next thing she remembers is waking up in Hillcrest Hospital some two days later. Her left leg was shattered and her right arm was broken in several places in addition to various other cuts and bruises. Looking at pictures of the car, I don’t see how she survived, especially given she wasn’t wearing a seat belt and this was way before air bags in cars.

She had to be torched out of the car. One note that is a little funny now, but was gruesome back then involved Mama’s head. See, in her younger years, Mama wore a lot of wigs. Given the jaw dropping beauty of Mama’s naturally long blonde hair, I have no idea why she’d ever want to cover it up with fake nylon hair, but apparently it was “the style.” In any event, she was wearing a particularly realistic looking wig on the day of her wreck and the force of the impact threw her head backwards and the wig fell off in the back seat. Her cousin, who was a rookie SC Highway Patrolman at the time, was the first to arrive on the scene and the first thing he saw was that wig lying on the floor of the car’s back seat. It was covered in blood and from the angle, he couldn’t see Mama in the front seat so he surmised she had been decapitated. Unfortunately, he’d just eaten lunch at the Ranch Road Steakhouse.

Just ignore the fat kid with the stupid grinny smile, but see what I mean about Mama's hair? Why would you cover that up?

The double chili Ranch Burger didn’t stay down.

So, I told you all that to tell you about today. This morning just about saw the end of one GS Feet and Mama Feet as well. We had been to NHC in Clinton to visit with Granny and make sure she was being treated to suit Mama, which she wasn’t, but that’s a story for another time. Since Mama needed to stop by the vet’s office to pick up some flea medicine for Bitsy and Rocky, I drove us through Laurens instead of taking the highway like we normally do. That almost became the last detour I ever took.

Driving anywhere with Mama is an adventure. Ever since “the wreck” as we call it, she has been terrified of cars. Of course, if I’d nearly died, been in a coma for a few days, and then had to spend the next year in a body cast and the year after that learning how to walk again, I might be a little nervous about motor vehicles myself, so I’ve gotten used to Mama’s quirks in the passenger’s seat. She stays tensed up and she stomps her foot on an imaginary brake pedal whenever she thinks we need to stop — which is a lot more than I think we need to stop.

So, we were be-bopping along the main drag through Laurens and Mama had already stomped a hollow in the Element’s right front floor mat. I slowed down just a bit and asked Mama if she’d like a drink from the McDonald’s up ahead. Even though she said no, that moment of reducing speed — and a healthy dose of Divine Intervention — probably saved our lives because just as we neared the restaurant’s entrance, the Buick in front of us in the left lane decided he needed a Big Mac or some fries RIGHT NOW and simply turned in to the parking lot FROM THE LEFT LANE!

Hope your food was cold you stupid bag of monkey boogers!! Where'd you learn to drive? Clown school?

No turn signal. Not even a brake light tap. Nothing. One minute Mama and I are riding along talking and the next minute my life is flashing before my eyes as the Element’s anti-lock brakes went to work stopping us on a dime. All I could see was a windshield full of green four-door. I stood on the brakes and shot out my right arm to hold Mama back, just like she has done to me on countless occasions over the years. Truthfully, I didn’t think I’d get us stopped in time because it all happened in an instant.

We managed to avoid the collision though and I was so stunned I didn’t even think to lay down on the horn. Mama was quiet for about two seconds before she started screaming at the driver of the Buick — now in the drive thru lane — and beating her right hand on the door in an attempt to get out of the still moving Element and rip the offending driver a brand new rear orifice. Mama, as a rule, doesn’t swear, but in this particular instance, she was so angry she was stuttering trying to think of a church approved word to call the driver. I was just happy we made it.

So all’s well that ends well. The driver was an idiot, of course, but that’s how fast your life can end. Mama has a nice bruise on her hand from pounding the door (all the Prednisone she must take makes it easy for her to bruise) and it took the rest of the ride home for her to calm down enough to breathe as well as she could . . . which ain’t real good. Upon reflection, if that had been the time for my ticket to get punched, I could think of worse ways to go than a car wreck next to Mama, but that certainly would leave Budge in a mess so I’m glad everything worked out!

So be careful on the roads, folks. Hug each other before you drive off and never leave one another if you’re angry. You never know if it could be the last time you see one another alive!

Love y’all and keep those feet clean so you’ll look nice if you have a wreck!

Westboro Baptist Church Stands Simpsonville Up . . . Thankfully


PFC Justin Whitmire: son, brother, soldier, friend. Rest in peace, soldier.

Another one of our boys was laid to rest today. PFC Justin Whitmire, an army combat medic and 2010 graduate of nearby Hillcrest High School, was ushered to his final resting place by the combined populations of Simpsonville, Fountain Inn, and several surrounding hamlets and villages. Driving downtown today as the human wall started to form, I couldn’t help but get choked up. Here was a young man who went off to war to do the duty his country assigned him and he fell in the honorable performance of that duty. His family and friends are justifiably proud of him and, judging from the attendance at his send-off, so were a whole lot of other people.

Conspicuously absent from the crowd today, despite dire warnings of their imminent arrival, were any protestors from the notorious Westboro Baptist “Church” of Topeka, KS. Now for those who don’t know, Westboro Baptist (hereafter to be called WBC) is a tiny Fundamentalist church out in Kansas. The pastor is an octogenarian disbarred lawyer named Fred Phelps. The vast majority of the massive 50 member congregation are Phelps’ children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and anyone unfortunate or stupid enough to marry into this sorry bunch of lunatic fanatics.

Fred Phelps, frontman for a hate group

The church slithered onto the national scene in 1998 when members protested and picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a 19-year-old Wyoming University student who was tortured and beaten to death after he allegedly “made a pass” at another man in a bar. WBC doesn’t like gay people. The church’s home page URL is http://www.godhatesfags.com. Since then, members of the church / Phelps family have taken to protesting funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They claim the soldiers’ deaths are the result of God’s wrath upon America. Oh, and incidentally, they are insanely happy about the 9-11-2001 World Trade Center attacks. If you haven’t figured it out by now, these people are “out there.” I would say they are the fuzzy endmost strands of material on the far end of the lunatic fringe. They hate everybody — homosexuals, military, Muslims, the list goes on and on.

This is funny. How do you know when you are too far over the line? Well, several counter-protests targeting WBC have included members of the Ku-Klux-Klan. True story. You read that correctly. The Klan joined with other regular people to protest WBC. Try to ask yourself this, “just how big of an asshole do you have to be for the freaking KKK to consider you a hate group?”  Hard to fathom, ain’t it?

Irony: a group that claims to hate gays carrying rainbow colored signs in their picketing.

Now, to be honest, I wouldn’t care about a bunch of homophobic nut jobs carrying cheap posterboard signs around if it wasn’t for the fact that these particular homophobic sign carrying nut jobs claim to 1) be Christians and 2) speak for God. That bothers me. It bothers me because they are such vitriolic hate mongers and media whores that they are guaranteed to boost newscast ratings. As a result, anytime they show up they get tons of attention they don’t really deserve. Then, non-believers see them and realize they are nuttier than a can of Planter’s and form the mistaken opinion that “kooky homophobic media whores” equal “Christian.” In the eyes of way too many people, these loons are what Christianity is all about.

That saddens me greatly.

I wish that instead of WBC getting so much press, the news could interview the staff of the church I attend so the world could hear about the Osbornes. This couple took their three preschool aged children with them to the mission field in Papua New Guinea. If you’ve never heard of Papua New Guinea, don’t fret. Most people haven’t. Suffice it to say it’s a 22 hour plane ride from LAX and some tribes on the island still practice head hunting and cannibalism. These lily-white yuppie Americans left behind a nice cushy life to take the Gospel to people who’ve never heard it before. They will be gone from the USA for at least 20 years.

That is what Christianity is all about. Not the putrescence Fred Phelps and his brood spew on a daily basis.

Fred's daughter, Shirley. Apparently, homosexuality is a sin, but flabby arms and unshaved pits aren't.

I don’t expect most of the folks reading this to be mighty theological scholars, but I’m pretty sure most of you know that the Holy Bible has an Old Testament and a New Testament. Apparently, Fred doesn’t. The entire misanthropic website is laden with Old Testament polemics from the always cheery book of Leviticus or dire threats of doom and gloom from the minor prophets. Almost nothing from the New Testament. No Gospel quotes and very little Pauline writing. If I could sit down with Fred and his clan, I’d like to start the conversation by saying, “Fred, you ever hear of this guy in the Bible named Jesus Christ? You may not know it, Fred, but Jesus was a pretty big deal.”

I doubt Fred’s ever seen Anchorman: The Ron Burgundy Story though so he wouldn’t get it at all.

Happily though, despite claims by one of the Phelps Phanatics that “six members of the congregation flew to South Carolina to protest” not a peep came from their mouths, if indeed they ever did show up. Of course, that is probably for the best, considering the appearance of some of the rougher looking members of the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group who showed up to form a human shield between the family and any WBC protesters. The “Member of the 1%” on a few of those guy’s riding jackets means something totally different than the Occupy people talk about.

So poor Simpsonville will go unedified by the Gospel according to hate monger Fred at least until our next brave soldier comes home in a flag draped coffin. Should that happen, though, the Patriot Guard and the good people of the Upstate will be here in force one more time.

Love y’all and remember to love each other and keep those feet clean.

Paolini’s Worthless Inheritance


"Copy one source and it's plagiarism; copy a bunch of sources and it's research . . . or The Inheritance Cycle.

One of my beloved Budge’s greatest strengths to me as a wife is her ability to hold up her end of the conversation in most of our realms of discussion. She’s as smart as she is pretty, which means she has quite the formidable intellect. It’s also safe to say we agree on many more things than we disagree on. One thing we don’t see the same way — AT ALL — is Christopher Paolini’s “Inheritance” Trilogy +1.

Budge just finished the fourth book of the series and pronounced it quite a good read. I read Eragon and Eldest and stopped because, not to put to fine a point on it, I’ve come to realize Christopher Paolini is a no-talent hack at best and an unrepentant plagiarist at worst. His talentlessness exceeds even Stephanie Meyer, which is something I never thought I’d say. At least Ms. Meyer was “original” (read: moronic) enough to take on vampires in a new and idiotic way because . . . wait for it . . . VAMPIRES DON’T FREAKING SPARKLE!

Paolini, however, is as unoriginal as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich . . . and has about as much taste. Now here’s the thing — I’m not the only one who recognizes what a horrible writer / copyist he is. In fact, ever since the publication of Eragon by Knopf back in ’06-ish, scores of scathing blog entries have eviscerated his childishly vapid and overwrought prose as well as his shameless appropriation of at least one major trait of every decent fantasy series since Tolkien.

Want ten reasons why Paolini is overrated? Check out Blair Mathis’ list.

Doubt the plagiarism? Read this Amazon.com review and see how, point for point, Eragon is Luke Skywalker with a dragon instead of an X-Wing and a sword instead of a light saber.

Finally, you can go to the Anti-Inheritance Wiki and see VOLUMES complete with page numbers, etc. showing just how horribly written and fraught with errors this drivel is.

However, I want to be frank and quote a REAL author, in this case Margaret Mitchell, by saying  “my dear, I don’t give a damn” about any of the errors in the book or the prose or the magic system or the plagiarisms. No. What pisses me off to no earthly end is all the press and fame Paolini has gotten making it look like he’s actually DONE SOMETHING! Make no mistake, this guy is not, as we Waffle House devotees like to say, “all THAT and a bowl of grits.”

What has he done? Well, he’s written a book. Correct. He was fifteen years old when he wrote Eragon and Eragon reads like a book a fifteen year old Tolkien / Star Wars fanboy would write. Nothing more. You can actually do a web search for Tolkien fan-fiction and find BETTER works by YOUNGER writers. I taught high school English for ten years and I can say with some expertise nothing about a 15 year old kid writing a book as bad as Eragon is exceptional. I had plenty of girl and guy freshmen fantasy addicted emogoths write novellas approaching or exceeding Paolini’s quality in ONE CLASS PERIOD (on the 90 minute block system just to clarify.)

No, Paolini is not exceptional. Exceptional is S.E. Hinton writing The Outsiders while still in public high school. If Eragon is still selling 500,000 copies a year in 2056, maybe I’ll reconsider my opinion. Personally, I doubt it will still be in print (physically or electronically) in 20 years, let alone 45.

Speaking of Hinton and public high school brings to mind another problem I have with Paolini — he was homeschooled. Now don’t get me wrong; I’ve got nothing against homeschooling per se. I don’t believe all the hype that would make every homeschooler out to be a genius, but that’s another post for another time. What I’m saying is how many novels could one of my emogoths have churned out if he or she’d had all day to work on such a passion at leisure?

"Why YES, yes I am quite the smug little prat! Thank you for noticing!"

My bottom line where Christopher Paolini and his lack of talent is concerned is simple — Eragon would NEVER HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT OF DAY if Paolini’s parents were not somewhat wealthy. They had enough money to get his pet novel published by a vanity press and last time I checked, that ain’t cheap.  They had enough money to send him on “book tours” to libraries and schools to do “readings” of his “work” to captive audiences and Carl Hiaason’s kid happened to be in one of those audiences and the rest is history . . . and hype, good lord, don’t forget HYPE. After all, if you don’t have talent, you’d better have marketing!

How many teens have the beginnings of a much better novel than Eragon sitting in a composition book or on a computer hard drive? We’ll never know most of them because those teens have to go to school and a great many of them have to work and not rely on Mommy and Daddy to fly them to the next “reading event.” If Mama had been rich enough to vanity press some of my work, I’d have had a few books out before college, too. As it is, Mama kept a roof over my head and food in my fat belly and I’ve got a box of rejection slips instead of bank notes.

But I’m not bitter.

If it seems like I’m being harsh . . . well, I am. Paolini represents a lot of the things I despise in the world. To me, he’s an arrogant “HAVE” thumbing his nose, very undeservedly, at all the “HAVE-NOTS.” He’s proof — like Paris Hilton and the Kardashian clan — that money can buy fame, but it can’t buy talent.

Love y’all, keep those feet clean, and remember —  Friends don’t let Friends read crappy fantasy books!

Frodo lives!

Of Meyers and Monkeys


Budge and Deuce are at a late showing of the newest “must see” cinema attraction, the long awaited epic screen adaptation of . . . Breaking Dawn, part 1. Really, they are. This was one movie Budge didn’t even bother to ask me to take her to see because my beloved and longsuffering wife knows that frost will form on the hinges of Hell ere this little duck pays to see vampires sparkle.

We're working on it, Ms. Meyer.


“Vampires sparkle.” Just typing that phrase threatens to make all my lovely Chickpea Chicken supper suddenly reappear.

At this juncture, I want to state for the record that I am all too intimately aware that Ms. Meyers has sold more novels in a day than I have or very likely ever will have sold in my entire hypothetical lifetime. I know this. I also know that the aforementioned Ms. Meyers now has more money in book sales, licensed merchandise, and movie royalties than the GNP of SEVERAL smaller nations. I realize this, I admit this, and I submit ONE reason in my defense that I am not simply spouting about sour grapes as an unpublished and unpopular writer.

My reason, in the words of a fine Baptist preacher named Charles H. Spurgeon, is “A hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog.”  Ms. Meyers can get richer than Solomon by selling more books than the Bible and it will not change the fact her magnum opus is as well-written as the assembly instructions for a piece of IKEA furniture.

For starters, Mrs. Bella Cullen (nee‘ Swan) is THE most insipid, weak, and pablum sipping “heroine” since Pollyanna. Why ANYONE, let alone two supernatural beings the likes of Sparkles and Lassie would be willing to grant her a moment’s glance is beyond me. I find it appalling so many young girls and GROWN WOMEN think of Bella as a suitable role model. Her craven, driveling character sets the cause of women’s rights back to the Victorian Era at best.

Secondly, the works rely on every stereotype known to feeble literature. The vampire is “charming?” Well, thank you Mr. Stoker, oh, I meant Ms. Meyers. An American Indian (or other rustic native) is a shapeshifter? Really? That trope hasn’t been used since, oh, I don’t know . . . Underworld? (And incidentally, Kate Beckinsale on her WORST day is blazingly hotter than Kristen Stewart in full wedding array.)

Thirdly, the books have more plot holes than Danish lace. A “family” that never ages lives in the same vicinity off and on for two centuries or so? GROWN VAMPIRES go to high school regularly? Well, Ms. Meyer obviously never went to high school biology class because if she did, she’d know that, by her OWN admission, vampire blood does not circulate in a vampire’s body. Since the blood doesn’t move, neither does Edward’s “little fang”. Hard to figure out where little Reneesme came from, now isn’t it?

Finally, and most importantly, Meyer ignores over 1,000 years of written eldritch history and supernatural lore. If she had one iota of respect for the tons of work that came before her she would know that VAMPIRES. DO. NOT. SPARKLE!!

Vampires die in the Sun. They burst into flames and blow away on the cold wind of irony and unrequited love!


So yes, Stephanie Meyer has raked in the dough and proven the Infinite Monkey Theorem in the process. She has followed in the footsteps of another nouveau riche female writer, J.K. Rowling. They both have truckloads of money and shiploads of fame. Of course, Rowling is twice the writer Meyer is, and I despise Rowling as well — for other, more esoteric reasons.

I think no less a literary figure than Stephen King says it best. On comparing Bella and Harry, the King of Horror himself says, “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”

And if he’d thought about it some more, you know what else he would have said?


Love y’all. Keep those feet clean and just say no to sparkly vampires!

This is all that gives me hope.


Survivior 2012: Washington, DC


As much as I hated to see it come, another Presidential election year has arrived. For the next twelve months, the American people will be inundated by ads on television, radio, Twitter, and probably Facebook telling us how great this candidate is and how horrible all his (or her) opponents are. Whoever comes out of the Republican Survivor Series gets to face off against the reigning champion / President, one Barack Obama.

Here is where it gets wildly interesting because ALL the Republican pundits from Glenn “Cry Me a River in my Sweater Vest” Beck to Rush “more Oxy than Billy Mays” Limbaugh are predicting a huge landslide win for the Republican candidate — whoever that turns out to be.

I highly doubt it.

Now let me get one thing straight from the beginning. I am not a political expert or commentator. I’m writing this post because I’m sick of the endless Republican presidential Debates ALREADY. People haven’t really started putting out yard signs and wearing bumper stickers yet and I’m already OVER IT. So I just want to point out why I think things are not going to turn out the way all the “experts” believe they will.

I don’t really care who wins because none of the candidates or President Obama share my views. I’m an Anarchist in the V for Vendetta mode. Read the book, you’ll understand.

Anyway, here goes my amateur breakdown of the upcoming Republican defeat. If I’m wrong, please comment. Also, I don’t usually ask this, but pass this one along because I’m SICK and TIRED of hearing all this politico-babble.

First, and this is the big elephant in the room people don’t want to talk about but, Teabaggers and other really rabid Conservatives forget the fact that President Barack Obama is the first African-American / person of color / Black POTUS. Now I know he’s actually biracial. My wife’s FOURTH graders know he’s biracial. That doesn’t really matter. He’s the first non-lily white man to get elected and a BIG chunk of the population of the USA is REALLY proud of that fact, and they have every right to be. Obama is THEIR man. If you don’t believe it, look at Herman Cain’s “numbers” among Black voters. Small single digits.  The people of color in this country are going to vote for Obama.

Second, Teabaggers and other really rabid Conservatives forget the fact that this country has many, many more poor people than rich people. Also, “rich” is relative; to a man living in a van down by the river eating government cheese, I’m probably looking like Warren B. himself. Anyway, all those great unwashed masses of poor people VOTE for President. They might not vote in off-year elections or any other election from Senator on down to dog-catcher, but they will vote for Presidents.

Didn't anyone tell those people what "tea bag" means before they picked the name for their movement? I mean, c'mon people, Wikipedia is your friend.

Now poor people — deserving and undeserving — have a vested interest in making sure all the entitlements stay in place. Word is starting to get around that the candidates who are going against Prez O want to mess with those entitlements. That’s messing wit’ they check! You ever been to a post office in a small town on “check day” third of the month? All those people standing in front of open PO boxes waiting for “they check” WILL vote in 2012 and they ain’t voting for someone who might “mess up they check.” Poor people are going to vote for Obama.

Third, Teabaggers and other really rabid Conservatives forget the fact that this country has as many — if not more now — OLD PEOPLE than young people. Old people LIKE Social Security. After all, “they paid into Social Security all their lives and THEY DESERVE TO GET THEIR MONEY!” Now, you and I know that Social Security doesn’t really work that way and who they were paying for were the retirees of 20 years ago and such. Most old folk don’t know that AND they don’t care to learn it. All they know is people like Romney and Co. are CONSIDERING fooling around with Social Security. Heck, they might even DO AWAY with Social Security and if they do that “I’ll lose all that money I put in over the years!” Old people are going to vote for Obama.

Let me interject a bit of knowledge here so you’ll know that I’m not a dumb as I sound sometimes. The Teabaggers, rabid Conservatives, and even I know that the welfare entitlements and Social Security are slowly but surely bankrupting the country. They aren’t doing it alone, I know, but they are a big chunk of the problem. I hear people all the time on TV talking about “don’t these people know the country can’t sustain this level of paying out?” To answer that question — NO, they don’t know that AND if they DID, they wouldn’t CARE.

Have you looked at Greece lately? It’s been in the news when they needed something to pull away from the pressing drama that is the “Penn State Sex Scandal” or the all important latest doings of one or more Kardashians. Greece is FLAT BROKE. They are just BARELY paying their bills. They are about to go under. As a result, the Greek parliament has passed “austerity measures” designed to cut spending and they’ve raised taxes some. Do you think the Greek people have jumped on board and agreed to tighten their collective belts to help ensure their country’s solvency? HADES NO! They are rioting in the streets! Those people are PISSED! They don’t CARE if the country is broke as long as “they get they check.” What will happen when they check stops because the country is BANKRUPT?

Told you! I ain't lying.

Think fire. Lots and lots of fire. For some reason, pissed off people like to burn stuff.

Does anyone REALLY think the people of America are going to be any better as we near economic collapse? No. Most people in America have no idea what country-wide economic collapse IS. All they know is “they got to get they check” on the third so they can make a payment on the trailer so they won’t have to live in the van down by the river. You tell them it’s going to mean higher taxes and THEY DON’T CARE because THEY DON’T PAY TAXES ANYWAY! Zero increased by 50% is still ZERO.

Any candidate — Presidential or otherwise — who runs on a platform of cutting entitlements or changing Social Security is NOT going to get elected or re-elected and politicians are all about the elections because being up on “The Hill” is a pretty sweet gig if you can get it. The hours are good, the pay is good, and the retirement is phenomenal! In all, being a politician is a great way to “get a check,” and we all know that no one — politicians included — wants ANYBODY to “mess with they check.”

Love y’all. Keep the faith and the feet clean.

Beam Me Up Adobe!


You ever just had one of those days?

People are baffling to me sometimes. I try to be caring and understanding of everyone’s little peculiarities and proclivities, but I can not tolerate stupidity. Ignorance, I can deal with. Someone ignorant can be educated and “fixed,” but as Ron White puts it so eloquently, “You can’t fix stupid.” Since I have hypertension already, I attempt to avoid stupid people as much as humanly possible; however, one arena exists where stupidity is not only impossible to avoid, but is also seemingly a prerequisite for the job. I’m talking about the Tenth Circle of Hell known as Customer Service.


This school year, Budge’s district switched from a bi-weekly pay schedule to a twice monthly pay schedule. They now get paid on the 15th and 30th of each month. Okay. Fine. Since we have such a definite system in place, I figured I’d try to make my bookkeeping a little simpler by setting up some automatic drafts. We only have two major bills each month — the car payment and the mortgage. Since the mortgage is due on the 20th, I planned to set up to have it drafted from our account on the 16th of each month. That way, the mortgage would get paid early but with enough lead time to make sure the paycheck went in the bank.

This being the 21st century since the Incarnation of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, I logged on to my trusty PC, went to the mortgage company’s website and couldn’t find a form to download and fill out in order to make this transaction happen. I was filled with sorrow because if it isn’t on the website, the only place to get the information is by making the call to (cue the creepy organ music) Customer Service.

Now as anyone knows, Customer Service is the worst misnomer in the long and storied history of misnomers. I am convinced that an IQ somewhere in the vicinity of warm milk, or maybe stale bread, is necessary to be a Customer Service rep. I have yet to only make ONE call to Customer Service anywhere and have my problem fixed. A three call minimum is my usual working plan. This adventure would crawl along similar lines.

I need to make the point right here that I’m talking about Customer Service, which is NEVER to be confused with the high and noble profession that is Technical Support aka “IT”. Tech Support is a horse of a decidedly different hue altogether.


REALLY? Why? What freaking good will it do?

Anyway, I screwed my courage to the sticking place, picked up the trusty Uniden, and called. I had no illusion of getting a human on the first ring and I was not disappointed. I was immediately confronted with a quite mellifluous female voice asking me to choose English or Spanish. Then came the litany of choices that included everything except what I wanted. The worst part was this company had gotten smart and pressing “0” didn’t do anything until The Voice gave the caller that choice and, wouldn’t you know it, that was the last choice!?


So I pressed Zed and listened to some horrid Muzak for about an hour during which I was reminded at irregular intervals that my “business is vitally important to us and we will answer any questions as soon as the next available operator comes on the line.” Just when I’d started tightening my grip a little unnecessarily on the phone, a woman picked up, gave me her name in a very disturbing nasally voice, and said, “Can I have your name, please?” Done. “Can you verify the address of the home?” Done. “Can you verify your home phone number?” Done. “Last four of your Social please?” Done. “and do you intend to keep the home?” Yes. “Now, Mr. Wham, how may I help you?”

This wasn’t my first rodeo with this company, so I endured this recitation with a certain grim stoicism and asked about the bank draft form. She pointed me to a wildly obscure corner of the website under a heading like “Miscellaneous Garbage Having Nothing to Do with Forms” then asked, “Will there be anything else, Mr. Wham?” I asked for a number I could fax the form to and she said, “Oh, that number is on the form, have a good day, Mr. Wham.” Then she was gone.

I pulled my newly acquired form from the printer and, guess what? NO. FAX. NUMBER. Checked the website. Of course not! Why put an unimportant thing like a fax number on the website? Only one thing to do — call back. Again with the pretty voice and the list and the Muzak and the reminders and then, “hello, this is [someone I can’t recall]” can I have your name please?” Done and at this point, you would think she would see that I hung up with her colleague not 30 seconds ago. You would think, but you’d be wrong. Nope. Whole spiel again, right down to the “Do you intend to keep the home” bit before the “How may I help you?” I asked for the fax number. She gave me the fax number. I thanked her. She hung up. I instructed my fax modem to call their fax. The number she gave me? It wasn’t a fax machine. None of the metallic / mechanical squawking associated with a fax answering a call through good computer speakers.

She gave me the wrong number.

I had to call back, again.

I wasn’t happy anymore.

Dial. Voice. List. Muzak. Reminders. “Hello my name is Slim Shady, can I have your name?” Once again through the entire run of blabber down to “Do you intend to keep the home?” I was sore tempted to say, “No, actually, I’d like to tow it down to your office and shove it somewhere” but I didn’t. I simply said I was given the wrong fax number. Then I asked her if I could just email her a pdf of the form with my voided check attached. She said no, that it had to be sent via snail mail or fax. I pointed out that a pdf would be much clearer and easier to read and that’s when she took the conversation from the ridiculous to the sublime. She said, “Maybe so, sir, but we have to have the check and your signature and you can’t email a pdf with the check and your signature attached.”

Had I not asked the next question, I’d have probably managed to salvage the day with a tiny bit of compassion left for the human race, but nope. Had to ask it.

“Ma’am, are you saying you need the ORIGINAL voided check and my ORIGINAL signature?”

“Yes, sir!”

“But you’ll take a fax?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Ma’am, by any chance do you know who installed your fax?”

“No, sir, why do you ask?”

“Because, honey, if his name wasn’t Montgomery Scott or Gene Roddenberry, that fax machine AIN’T GONNA SEND YOU AN ORIGINAL DOCUMENT!!”

And I hung up.

Without getting the fax number.

So I had to call back

. . . again.

Love y’all, and keep those feet clean!


Please Do Not Antagonize the Crazy People


I went to the unemployment office first thing after dropping Budge off this morning. Even though my Tier 1,2, and 3 benefits are exhausted, the office is advising everyone to keep registering for the next tier (4 in my case) in the fleeting hope that the Elephants and Donkeys will reach a 12th hour compromise and 2,000,000 people won’t lose their benefits as a Christmas present.

Anyway, I left and hit up Hardee’s for a nice gravy biscuit and sat working my crossword puzzles until it was time to go see Dr. Stephens, my psychiatrist. Dr. Stephens is phenomenal. He has been a big help and he’s the only mental health professional, besides Dr. Catherine, that I trust. He is a specialist — one of the only ones in SC —  in child psychiatric treatment and I sometimes think that’s why he’s so good at helping me . . . he’s on my level!

Actual photograph of my psychiatrist's office manager!

Well, the visit with him went fine, but then I had to confront (cue the ominous music) The Creatures of the Front Desk!

See, Dr. Stephens doesn’t have his own office. He leases space, along with a dump truck load of other doctors, in a building owned by one of the older psychiatrists. In exchange for 40% of his patient income (I really don’t want to think about how much he must be making — he drives a Dodge Viper AFTER paying rent) he gets a front office that sets his appointments, does his insurance filing, does his billing, and drives his (and ever other doctor’s) patients INSANE, which may be redundant since this is a psychiatrist’s office in the first place.

Therein lies the problem! These harpies at the front desk seem to absolutely DELIGHT in making visits to this office as miserable as possible. They are shrewish, shrill, and about as useful / helpful as a screen-door on a submarine. Now did I mention that this is a PSYCHIATRIST’S OFFICE? These “ladies”, to use the term loosely, are fiendish experts — knowingly, willfully, or not — at cranking up the stress on people and some of these people you REALLY don’t want stressed any further than they already are. I’ve seen folks come into the waiting room red-faced and shaking, or crying uncontrollably and these women are more interested in making sure they have a current copy of an insurance card.

Not everyone I’ve dealt with at the front desk has been so difficult. As a matter of fact, two of my former students once worked there as office staff, but the Queen Bee, who could have been a lead actress in Gossip Girls if she was 20 years younger, eventually ran them off. They were sweet girls and sweetness is not rewarded in the Lair of the Gorgons. I have no idea why the doctor who owns the building keeps her around. I’ve asked Dr. Stephens and Dr. Catherine before she left and they don’t know why either. The only reason I can come up with is the same reason people like her manage to keep positions all over the world when their workplace would run so much better without them:

They know where all the bodies are buried and they have pictures.

I swear this guy has stood in front of me to check out. Does he REALLY look like someone you want antagonized? Just saying.

I’ve seen — actually seen with my own two eyes — one of these women pretty much berate to tears a lady who was bringing her teenage son in to see my doctor. I know the family because I taught the oldest child about seven years ago when this kid was in third grade or so. His sister used to tell me stories. The kid was rough back then. That young man has more issues than National Geographic not the least of which is a violent streak a mile wide, but the one thing he cherishes above anything else in the world is his mama.

Those women had no idea how lucky they were. It’s all well and good to say “I’ll call the police” but the police take time to arrive and some of the people who come through that office could do a lot of damage before the cops got there. He once attacked a neighbor who accidentally backed into his mama’s new car because he thought it would make his mama cry. He’s REALLY touchy over his mama. Issues. National. Geographic.

Even more than that rare side of things though, what drives me to distraction about them is the callousness.

Most of the patients the doctors see are really depressed or have terrible anxiety issues or other painful emotional problems. Is it so difficult to be a little kinder? The front desk staff acts like the money they are collecting is going directly into their pockets. It’s not, so chill a bit people.Why add another bad day incident to a person who is already having too many bad days as it is?

I tend to agree completely.

All I know is, I had some borderline psychotic students in my classes through the years and I was always on the greatest of terms with them. Kindred spirits? Dunno. Other teachers couldn’t understand how I could be so tolerant, patient and calm with these terrors. I told them it was simple self preservation instinct. Whenever they wanted to know how being nice to the “wild bunch” was self preservation I had one simple answer:

“When they come in with a gun one day, I want them to remember they LIKED me enough to say, ‘Hey, Coach, you were good to me . . . I’ll shoot you last!” Any port in a storm, right?

Y’all take care and be better to each other than these Jenny Green Teeth are and, as always, keep those feet clean!

Love y’all!