A Confession is Brewing

18 Sep

I have a confession to make to the readers of this blog. It is something that many people who know me have a difficult time understanding. It places me in a minority of people who others may think of as strange, weird, un-American and totally out of the loop. What is my confession?

I do not drink coffee.

Understand that I know a lot of people who love coffee. My wife cannot start her day properly without a cup or two. Other members of my family are also coffee drinkers. One of my good friends at work always has a styrofoam cup in his hand, which led me to buy this for his office door.image-12

Heck, I was having a meeting with another coworker when he asked if I wanted some coffee. When I told him that I did not drink coffee, he looked at me like I had three heads.

I know that they, and millions of other people, love coffee. However, I never grasped that love. I am sure this is because my parents did not drink coffee, but, as I grew up, the urge never hit me.

When I was in high school, my summer job was working on the loading dock of a factory. Imagine working in a metal building during the hottest and most humid part of the year. It was a job where everyone looked forward to break time, where they could get into the air conditioning and get a cold drink.

At least, I looked forward to getting a cold drink. Several of my coworkers would pour a hot cup of coffee. I could never understand that. I needed to feel something cold, and they were taking in hot liquid. They explained it by saying that coffee actually cooled you off better than something cold. I think that was crap. There is nothing sensible about drinking something hot while working in a hot factory.

I will give them credit for drinking their coffee black. What is that old cowboy saying? Coffee is not strong enough unless a horseshoe can stand up in it. These days, people drink coffee with sugar, whipped cream, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, peppermint and other kinds of flavors. For this, I cannot blame them. If I was going to drink coffee, then I would want to cover up the taste, too.

When I was a kid, my mom used to get mad when I refused to eat something because it tasted bad. She would always ask if I had ever tried it. That argument does not fly with coffee. I have tried it, and it does not suit my palate. Those guys in the factory break room used to say that you had to acquire a taste for coffee. I was told the same thing about beer and have the same response about both. If I do not like something the first time I try it, then why would I want to drink it until I like it? You either like something, or you do not.

As someone who does not like coffee, I realize that I have missed out on the coffeehouse experience. I think it would be cool to hang out in a coffeehouse and be Bohemian for a while. Get away from the hustle and bustle of life; sit by a fire with a steaming cup; and listen to someone singing with an acoustic guitar. Or, go in with a laptop and scroll blogs while a poetry reading goes on in the background.

I am not kidding about that last paragraph. I really feel like I have missed out by not emersing myself in that atmosphere on occasion. To me, that would be the one plus of being a coffee lover. However, here is the thing. Most coffee drinkers do not take advantage of that break from real life. They pull up to the drive-thru window and take the coffee into the hustle and bustle with them.

Look, I have an issue with drive-thru windows, anyway. One of my early blog posts was about the uselessness of a drive-thru window at Sonic, and I will walk into a place a thousand times before pulling up to the window. There is something more personal about doing business inside a business. However, I think the drive-thru at a coffeehouse truly takes away from the whole reason coffeehouses exist in the first place.

This is not a knock at people who drink coffee. I think it is wonderful that they have something that gives them that much satisfaction and pleasure. However, I will take my caffeine cold and carbonated in a Coke Zero. If I could get those coffeehouses to turn themselves into Coke Zero houses, then the world would be a perfect place.

Museums, Memorials, Steaks and Some College Football

16 Sep

This weekend, I traveled to Oklahoma with my nephews and Larry, a friend that you have read about. We went for a college football game but did a few other things, as well. At least, we did a few other things once we arrived. That, in and of itself, was an adventure.

We arrived at the Nashville airport in anticipation of a quick trip to Oklahoma City. That quick trip turned into a two-hour delay for mechanical problems. Once we got into the air, the plane was redirected due to weather. That added another couple of hours to the flight. A three-hour layover in Houston suddenly turned into a missed connection. When we landed, we discovered that the connecting flight was delayed because the plane had not left New Orleans. We did not miss our connection, but we still had to sit around for a couple of hours.

All of that adds up to a couple of things. First, a night of messing around Oklahoma City was cut short. Second,  I was reminded why I hate flying. If I am driving, then I know what the schedule is going to be. In an airport, I have to wait for somebody else to screw up.

Anyway, we made it to Oklahoma City and to our hotel. With little time to spare, we went to a couple of places that were high on the agenda.

I have been to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum many times on our annual field trip to New Mexico. We make a point to stop and show our students the site of the Murrah Federal Building, which was blown up in the first major terrorist attack in the United States. However, I had never seen it at night. I have heard that this is the time to visit. The memorial is lit up and the feelings of what happened there hit the hardest.image-9

I must say that it was a beautiful site to see, and the memorial is an appropriate tribute to the people who lost their lives.image-8

My oldest nephew had been there before, but my youngest nephew had not. I am glad that he got to see it. Unfortunately, we could not stay for long because we had our name on the list at our next destination.

Cattlemen’s Steakhouse is a well-known restaurant across the river in Stockyards City. It has been around for decades and is known as the best steakhouse in Oklahoma. Some friends who were already there placed our name on the list, and we needed to get there before our buzzer went off.

The place was packed with people from Tennessee. Apparently, they all got the word that this was the place to eat. Heck, they could have seen it on Guy Fieri’s television show. It is a cool restaurant with a great atmosphere and a great history. If John Wayne and Ben Johnson have eaten there, then it must be a great place.

With all of that being said, I was disappointed with the food. The steak was pretty good, but it was far from the best I have ever eaten. It is no comparison to the Land of Magic in Manhattan, Montana. I am glad that we went because we can always say that we were there, but I hope that Oklahoma has better steak places.

After a long day of flights and a big meal of food, we were ready to pack it in for the day. Besides, the important day was coming up. There was a big night game to be played down the road, and there were a few more places to visit before heading to the stadium.

I had not been to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum since I was a kid, and, honestly, I did not know much about it. I figured it would be cheesy, but, with a lot of time on our hands, it was something to do. I could not have been more wrong. This was one of the best museums I have ever seen. Rooms were filled to the brim with artifacts, art and anything that a lover of the American West would want to see.image-11

There was a room full of firearms, but that was not my favorite. I liked the artwork by Frederick Remington, C.M. Russell and others. I also liked the room dedicated to movies, which had an extensive collection of John Wayne’s personal belongings. There was a painting based on The Searchers that I would steal if I know how to be an art thief. There were also props from a bunch of my favorite movies.image-10

I cannot write about the museum without mentioning the rodeo room, which places you in the middle of the ring, and the room with the town, which places you on the streets of an old cattle town. The only thing missing was a brothel, and I still have not gotten over that disappointment.

We left that museum with the intention of visiting the ASA Softball Hall of Fame. My dad is in the Tennessee Hall of Fame, and we know several people who are enshrined in the national one. Unfortunately, it is closed on the weekends. One would think that the weekend would be a good time to open the doors.

With all of that behind us, it was time to drive to Norman and the football game between the University of Tennessee and the University of Oklahoma. The game did not go the way we wanted, but we had a great trip. We saw some interesting things and visited some interesting places. Like always, it is always good to travel, but it is also good to return home.

Venturing Into Oklahoma

12 Sep

This weekend, I am heading to Oklahoma to see my team, the University of Tennessee Volunteers, play the University of Oklahoma Sooners. It is always fun to go to a new stadium and see the traditions of other schools. I am sure it will be interesting to experience how they do things.Oklahoma

Hopefully, my team will make a good show of things. They are in a rebuilding mode, and Oklahoma is a powerhouse. That is not a formula for success, but you never know what might happen.

While we are there, we may get the chance to do a few other things. It has been years since I visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. On top of that, we have to visit the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame. We know a few of the inductees, and, many years ago, we played in a national tournament on their fields. We did not fare well in that athletic event.

Anyway, I will return with stories of adventure and, hopefully, athletic glory for the team in orange.

Winding Down at the King Kamehameha Club

10 Sep

People have different ways of winding down after a long day at work. Some people take naps. Other people have an adult beverage or two. There are also people who spend time at the gym. Through time, I have had several winding down habits. The treadmill is always waiting for me, but there are times when I cannot get on it until later in the evening. Blogging has also proven useful as a relaxation tool.

Lately, I have found another way of getting my mind off the events of the day. It takes me to the days of my childhood when I would come home from school and watch afternoon reruns. Each afternoon, Magnum, P.I. comes on, and it is awesome. I kick back on the couch and watch one of my all time favorite shows. Daisy Dog sits beside me and watches, too. I think she is a fan of Zeus and Apollo, otherwise known as the Lads.Lads

I already know what is going to happen in each episode, but that is not the point. For 45 minutes without commercial interruption, I can disappear into the world of Magnum, Higgins, T.C. and Rick and let my mind go free. Of course, most television shows are means of escape, but how can you go wrong with a private investigator who gets to live in a mansion and drive and Ferrari for free. On top of that, he gets to do it in Hawaii.

Magnum, P.I. is one of the classic shows from the 1980s and, with a run from 1980 to 1988, took up most of the decade. This decade was filled with characters trying to solve crimes, but none did it better than Thomas Magnum. He did it with a laid back style and with a lot of help from his friends.

As I have been watching the episodes, I have wondered what happened to the gang in the years after the show went off the air. Tom Selleck has gone on to other series and a bunch of made-for-television movies. However, he never made it as a huge star on the silver screen. There were a few decent movies scattered through the years, but most of his work has been on television. This tends to happen to a lot of television stars. They never reach the glory of that one great series, and they never gain a foothold in the theaters. Despite that, I am sure Tom Selleck has made a nice living. He is now 69 years old.

John Hillerman, the Texan who could do a great British accent, was a character actor in a few great movies before Hawaii came calling. They Call Me Mister Tibbs. The Last Picture Show. High Plains Drifter. Blazing Saddles. Chinatown. However, he is best known as Higgins. After the show’s run, he was in a couple of television shows and a few made-for-television movies, but that was about it. He is now in his early 80s and, I assume, retired.

Roger E. Mosley was the helicopter pilot. Everyone needs a friend who can fly a helicopter. Heck, I even bought a “Island Hoppers” t-shirt. It is very fashion forward. If you do not believe me, then ask my wife. Anyway, he has also been in a few series since Magnum, P.I. went of the air. In the last one, he played a character called Grandpa Faison. Mosley is 75 years old.

Larry Manetti played Rick, the friend with underworld connections. Everyone needs a friend with underworld connections. He recently showed up on Hawaii 5-0 but has also been in some movies where the plot is built around several sex scenes. Oh yeah, there is also a book about his days on Magnum, P.I. The youngest of the group, he is 67 years old.

Watching the reruns, it is hard to realize that the show went of the air 26 years ago and that the actors are older now. When Magnum revs up the Ferrari in the opening credits, it is as if that scene was filmed yesterday. I guess the same can be said for all of the old movies that I watch.

Anyway, I watch a show that aired over a quarter of a century ago to wind down after a day of work. While I watch, I wonder what happened to the people on the screen. Now, I have a few questions for you. Why do you think actors in popular shows have a difficult time regaining that fame? What do you do to wind down at the end of the day?



My iPod Has Issues – The Problems With Furniture, DVD’s, Paper, Pencils and Maps

9 Sep

Things that happened today:

I walked into class to see that someone moved all of the furniture around. That is one of the issues with sharing rooms with teachers and others who feel the need to invade. Someone is always moving the furniture around. They could at least put it back where they found it. Oh yeah, that reminds me. They could also erase the whiteboard that they have written all over.

I got a DVD from the library only to discover that the DVD player in the room does not do what you want it to do. The remote control is missing, and the buttons on the actual player will skip through the menu.

I went to a program by a guest lecturer that we invited to campus. I offered my students a chance for extra credit, and a few of them took advantage. My rule was that they had to bring a notecard with their name on it. How many do you think showed up without a notecard or a writing instrument?Pencil

I studied the map for a friend who is going on a trip into the American West. Luckily, I know a lot of the sites by heart because the print on the map is too small to read. I reckon that means I am getting old.

In honor of the furniture; the DVD player; the sudden disappearance of paper and pencils; and the unreadable map, I have decided to relax to the soothing sounds of my iPod.

“Beautiful In My Eyes” by Joshua Kadison

“Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Calloway

“Look What You’ve Done To Me” by Boz Scaggs

“Red Shoe Tango” by George Clinton

“Bat Out of Hell” by Meat Loaf

“C.L.U.” by Daft Punk

“Soldier of Love” by Arthur Alexander

“Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone

“Walking in the Rain” by The Ronettes

“Gnik Nus” by The Beatles

“My Generation” by The Who

“Visions of Johanna” by Bob Dylan

“Chica Boo” by Lloyd Glenn

“Stand!” by Sly and the Family Stone

“The End” by The Doors

“Going Up the Country” by Canned Heat

“Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell

“Respect Yourself” by The Staple Singers

“Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones

“Leader of the Pack” by The Shangri-Las

Now that I am relaxed, it is time to mentally prepare for the coming day.

Listeria – To Be Afraid or To Not Be Afraid

8 Sep

I like scary movies, but I do not see them that often. Why? Because no one else around me likes scary movies. Heck, my wife and my stepdaughter watch shows like Criminal Minds and cover their eyes during the crime scenes. How do you watch a crime show and not watch the crime? On top of that, my wife is always getting scared. If I walk into the room, then she screams. Never mind that we are the only people in the house, and she should suspect that I might walk in.

It does not stop there. The last “scary” movie I saw was The Woman in Black. My nephew went with me, but he did not like it. He likes all kinds of gross stuff, but he is not a fan of scary movies.

Honestly, I cannot see how people can get scared by a movie. It is happening on screen and is being performed by actors. Those are not real people, and they are not in the room. Getting scared in a dark alley? That is one thing. Getting scared in a dark theater? That is completely different.Horror

The other day, I saw a magazine about the “50 Scariest Movies’ that, I assume, was put out for Halloween. After all, Halloween is only two months away. To me, retailers putting out decorations two months before a celebration is scarier than any movie. Anyway, I picked it up to see how many of them I have seen and to write a blog post. I will list the ones that I have seen and write a short commentary about each one.

Cat People (1942) - I am cheating on this one. I watched the 1982 version on late night cable. It starred the beautiful Natassja Kinski, and I was not watching it for the chills. As an impressionable young man, I was watching it for her thrills.

The Thing From Another World (1951) – I saw this one a couple of months ago. It stars James Arness as the marshal of Dodge City. Wait, that is something else. It stars James Arness as an alien plant kind of creature.

The Fly (1958 and 1986) - Yep, the original and the remake made the list. The first one is best because it has Vincent Price, and it is creepy to see the fly guy caught in a spiderweb.

Psycho (1960) – Has a scene about a naked woman covered in chocolate ever been this scary? Only Alfred Hitchcock could pull that off.

The Birds (1963) – The other day, I tried to Tweet about The Birds, but autocorrect turned Tippi Hedren into Tipping Hedren. They should make a movie about someone killing autocorrect.

The Exorcist (1973) – The theme song used to be my ringtone. Every time someone called, I was hoping it was Max von Sydow.

The Wicker Man (1973) – This movie is not scary. How can a movie about people dancing in the woods and becoming one with nature be scary? In the end, Edward Woodward needed to call The Equalizer. The odds were against him, and he needed help.

Jaws (1975) – After watching this, I really see no need to venture into the domain of sharks. We have legs and do not have gills.

The Omen (1976) – Damien used to live in my neighborhood. At least, that kid should have been named Damien. There is no doubt that a 666 was carved into his head.

Halloween (1978) – You think William Shatner overacts in Star Trek and those online travel commercials. You should see his mask overact on the face of Michael Myers.

Friday the 13th (1980) – This got the decade off to a rousing start and made hockey goalies that much more menacing. I must admit that the old hockey masks looked a lot cooler than the new ones. I cannot imagine Jason wearing one.

An American Werewolf in London (1981) – The lesson of this one? Do not go hiking down foggy roads in the United Kingdom. If you do, then spend the evening in the local pub.

Poltergeist (1982) – You cannot trust real estate developers. Wait, I am a real estate developer. I just know not to build on a burial ground.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – I have to admit that I always cheered for Freddy Krueger. My good friend Robert and I had an interesting meeting with Freddy at a Halloween haunted house. I should write about that when Halloween gets closer.

Misery (1990) – I only have one thing to say. It has the worst use of a sledge-hammer in movie history. I could not get that out of my mind.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Cool movie. Cool characters. A big scene is supposed to happen in Tennessee. However, it took a few viewings before I realized what the lamb part was all about.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) – A good friend of mine thought the footage was real. How could anyone be fooled like that. It is like those television shows that hunt for Bigfoot. I they had found it, then we would have already known it. The same goes for this movie.

The Sixth Sense (1999) – I figured this one out when Dr. Crowe was having dinner with his wife. When I told the people I was with, they got mad.

The Others (2001) – This is one of my all time favorite movies, and I figured it out pretty quickly, as well. However, I did not tell anyone. I learned my lesson from two years earlier.

There you have it. Those are the movies on the list that I have seen. Interestingly, one scene in one movie freaked me out, and that movie is not on the list. I will give you a warning. If you ever watch The Ring, then you should turn it off before the final scene.



The Midnight Hour is Close at Hand

7 Sep

It is late. The house is quiet. As I look out the window, a streetlights illuminate the street, and leaves stir in the breeze. Beside my computer lies a magazine about the scariest movies ever made. All of these combine to bring to my mind a verse of dread and despair. It is a poem that I once knew by heart, but one that I have not thought about in many years. It was known by millions, but those who made it popular are now gone.

The Merchant of MenaceVincent

The King of PopMichael

The words are as follows.

Darkness falls across the land.
The midnight hour is close at hand.
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize your neighborhood.
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell.
The foulest stench is in the air,
The funk of forty thousand years.
And grisly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom.
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver.
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller.

Yep, that is what I am thinking about as the midnight hour nears.


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