Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jet fuel for lunch

I woke up fairly darned alert thanks to an ambien and a melatonin. We had scheduled a tour of the largest, most modern paper mill in the world about a three hour bus ride from Shanghai. The facility was unbelievable! They manufacture more paper in a month than some U.S. mills do in a year. They employ 5000 people on a campus that covers almost three square miles.

It seemed like we met about 10 percent of these employees in a board room as soon as we showed up. One day into a five day business trip and I'm already almost out of business cards. Oh crap. It's not like I sell paper or anything...

After a 2-hour introductory meeting, we broke for lunch. One of our compatriots made the crucial error of ordering white wine for the table. Apparently white wine in China signifies some sort of 100+ proof rice schnapps that tasted like napthalene. You know it's nasty when Westerners are voluntarily asking for more of that yummy cow intestine to get the taste out of their mouths.

Unfortunately, the Chinese contingent really enjoyed toasting us one at a time and as a group. Then we noticed that some of them were toasting us with water and freakin' wine spritzers. That just wasn't fair, but I understand that it is a pretty typical Chinese negotiation tactic.

We reconvened for another meeting with a pretty good buzz on and our stomachs struggling to digest some non-traditional chicken parts and unidentifiable seafood. This meeting was to design the packaging specs for a new product line we proposed bringing to the states.

Someone once described a platypus as an animal designed by a committee. We were acting as a twenty person committee, but half of us were buzzed, tired and starting to get cranky. After a couple more hours of talking in circles, we agreed to table the idea until we were better rested and informed.

Next stop tonight is the garden city of Suzhou. It is supposed to be a beautiful historic tourist attraction. But it's raining cats and dogs (no, that's not the menu for dinner) and we're stuck on another bus ride talking excitedly about when we will get to sleep tonight.

Ahh, the joys of a business junket. More gustatory details to come.

Jet wrecked

So how'd you spend the past 35 hours? (Note: I doubt any of these China posts will be in real time, since I don't have local internet access on this here Treo.) Thanks to all my blogging advisors for their jetlag advice. I'm holding up alright so far, but I'll let you know how I end up.

I drove from Macon to Atlanta last night. (2 days ago? Damn international date line!) I got in by 11:30 pm and got to bed by midnight knowing I had to get up at 4:00. Unfortunately, my wonderful girlfriend forgot about the time zone difference and called at 12:45 with the totally thoughtful idea of leaving me an "I love you" voice mail. I groggily agreed that I loved her too and ended up staring at the clock for the next 3 hours until it was time to wake up.

So I've been awake for pretty much a day and a half and I think there are bats flying around the room in my peripheral vision. The flight from LA to Shanghai was long enough for me to need a haircut by the time it was over-15+ hours.

I'm mistyping more than I'm getting right on this tiny keyboard, so I figure I'll iron a few shirts and hit the hay. More from the East tomorrow.


Saturday, April 29, 2006

I asked for it. I got it.

We pulled the trigger and went ahead and drafted Vince Young. I was really in favor of this a year ago. I hope we don't get buyer's remorse.

I just can't shake the image of Bud Adams as Hank Hill's boss, Buck Strickland. "Dad gummit, Jeff. I don't care what you and Norm think. Go out and get me my local boy!"

Like I said when we unveiled that ugly-ass logo and quasi-stupid team name years ago. Get used to it now. It's your team and you gotta get behind 'em.

Go Titans!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

That's curious

I tried to go check my own blog and found it can't be opened here on the internet. Either is down or I've been censored.

That's cool.

Thought Police

Hi All,

I only have a few more minutes of internet access time, but I thought I'd share this comment I got from the "Chinese Internet Police":

"You have misued your alloted minute on our state-run computer, spreading your lies about our eating habits. Tomorrow you die!Imperialist capitalist pig!"


I'll be back in country this weekend with plenty of stories to tell (type.)

Stayed tuned if you care.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Shanghai Surprise

I only have a minute on this computer, but I thought I'd give a quick update to anybody who's reading this and cares.

I'm pretty sure I ate dog last night. By mistake, I swear.



Other than that, all is well and I'll post full trip reports when I return next week.

CeeElCee Xiao Peng

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Macon no sense

I snuck out of the convention I'm attending in Macon to visit Duane Allman and Berry Oakley's graves side by side in a beautiful old Confederate cemetary on a hill overlooking downtown. I went with a friend of mine who's a real "old head" like me and who I knew would appreciate the moment.

In a Spinal Tapesque moment, as we stood silently contemplating the irony and the tragedy that these two great musicians would die so young in motorcycle wrecks almost exactly a year apart, my friend started to hum "Tuesday's Gone" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

"That's not the Allman Brothers," I thought.

"What the hell are you humming?" I asked.

"Free Bird, dude. Free Bird."


A Cautionary Quote

To paraphrase P.J. O'Rourke talking about giving money and power to government: "Giving control of Nashville is Talking to the Nashville Knucklehead is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."

I'm sorry I won't be in town to see it. Best of luck Music City! Play nice.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Desperately Seeking Szechuan

I leave tomorrow on a eight day trip to China via Macon, GA. Apparently you can't get to Shanghai without going through Macon.

Actually, I have a three day conference in Georgia followed by a middle of the night drive to the Atlanta airport, a flight to Shanghai via Denver and Los Angeles and several trips to various locations in China via smaller air carriers that have their overhead compartments segregated into "carry-on baggage" and "poultry."

The whole trip will cover 15 different time zones in a little over a week. So my query to you, oh loyal and disturbed readers, is whether anybody has any tips for getting through such a stupid boondoggle of a trip. I hate to miss the Predators playoff run, so root them on for me. But if any one leg of the trip over gets delayed by an hour, I'm screwed anyway, and I'll probably be camping out in LAX for a week.

I'm sure I'll be able to post from Macon. From China, not so much...

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Could there possibly be a place with worse drivers than the parking garage at a medical clinic?!

Take Five

I got tagged by The Nashville Knucklehead a while ago on this one, so I figured in the spirit of full disclosure I oughta share a little more about my dry little spot in the universe. There doesn't seem to be any set format for these 5-spot deals, so I'll choose what I want.

5 jobs I've Had
VP of marketing of a paper company, owner of a direct mail office product and stationery catalog, Princeton Review high school and college standardized testing instructor, resident assistant, scuba tank technician

5 Movies I Could Watch Over and Over
Fandango, Blues Brothers, Pulp Fiction, Seven Samurai (with subtitles and commentary track on...otherwise I can never figure out what the heck is going on), Godfather

5 Places I've Lived
Westmeade, Stanford, East Palo Alto, Wallingford, CT, 37212

5 TV Shows I Love to Watch
Arrested Development (RIP?), The Office (I'll count BBC and NBC as one), Family Guy, MythBusters, Amazing Race

5 Places I like to Go on Vacation
New Orleans (RIP?), Vegas, Sewanee, Gulf Shores, Napa

5 Favorite Foods
Interstate BBQ's bbq'd spaghetti, my smoked pork tenderloin, RUABelle's international lasagna, Brazilian churrasco, Ferdi Special Po-boy from Mother's in New Orleans

5 Places I'd Rather Be
Sewanee on my front porch, Center Hill Lake in a boat fighting a smallmouth bass, on a beach in Brazil practicing my portuguese "É a coisa mais linda que eu ja vi passar," in a hammock in Xel-Ha near Tulum, Mexico, on a dark craps table late at night in a downtown Vegas casino

5 Albums I Couldn't Live Without
Layla-Derek and the Dominos, What is Hip?-Tower of Power, Kiko-Los Lobos, Deguello-ZZ Top, Texas Flood-Stevie Ray Vaughan

I don't know 5 other bloggers to tag, but I'll at least get two friends, Chuck and the Hilster.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Council Bluff?

There was an interesting article in the Tennessean over the weekend about how the Metro Council has effectively reduced its membership by 10% due to people changing jobs, resigning due to confilct of interest or dying. Personally, I haven't noticed any disruption or reduction in Metro services due to the smaller governing body. As a matter of fact, I think this is only one small step toward revamping this bloated body. We are saddled by the dual problem of a council which is too big, so that nobody claims any personal responsibility in favor of council-maniac (misspelling intentional) courtesy and a rapid turnover due to term limits that prevent any sort of instututional memory from being developed.

Mayor Purcell has made the bold pronouncement that he would like to see a smaller Metro Council as part of his legacy. This is a great idea, but it would require the body itself recommending that the Metro Charter be changed to eliminate some of their own positions. And it's being proposed by a man that didn't even know how many terms he could serve, and he's the damn mayor!

I wholeheartedly applaud the effort, but with the anticipated influx of yuppie suburbanite new condo residents to the downtown area, I imagine the gerrymandering involved to maintain any sort of minority representation on the Council would lead to more vitriol and less future cooperation than it's worth.

We're lucky that we have at-large council members who have been willing to step in and fill the positions left vacant over the past year, rather than endure the hassle and expense of special elections. But with 35 regular council districts, is there really anyone who can claim that they are underrepresented?

I say draw up no more than 20 ethnically diverse districts, do away with the at-large positions and the term limits. If your council member isn't doing a good job, vote the loser out! If he or she is doing a good job, don't force them to leave after two terms if they're willing to do this thankless job at low pay. With less districts, there would be less chance that a bad rep could maintain their position just by consolidating their power with a small, misled electoral base. (I'm looking at you Ludye.) Their actions would have to be scrutinized and ratified by a larger group of citizens, and hopefully informed decisions could be made.

I'm off my soap-box. Back to more mindless drivel tomorrow.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Is this what they mean by "Sunrise Service?"

Saturday, April 15, 2006


As per usual, I was reading my favorite bite-size prose at Kat Coble's and I happened across her ode to the Golden Arches.

It's been a year and a half since I've been to a McDonald's. Yes, that exactly corresponds to the day after I saw "Supersize Me." I don't normaly allow myself to be swayed by propoganda documentaries (see Michael Moore) either from the right or the left. But after watching Morgan Spurlock turn his liver into pate and seeing the dvd extra of the french fries that didn't change form at all even after being left in a jar for six weeks, I figured that there are plenty of other bad things I do to my body that I enjoy a lot more the Mickey D's. So I cut out that particular vice to leave room for vices I hadn't even discovered blogging.

But I do have a McDonald's story or two and considering Aunt B is in charge of the Nashville blogosphere for the weekend, I figured I'd better contribute something. Besides, I've got nothing better to do on this beautiful spring afternoon up here at the Sewanee cabin with RUABelle than watch the Nashville Busch race on cable and smoke a rack of ribs low and slow, just the way I like `em. Life is good!

Flash back twenty-sumfin' years to my college days. Going to school on the west coast at a university that was on the quarter system instead of semesters, I was always the last one of my friends to leave after the summer was over. After senior year of high school, there were 30+ tearful goodbyes and promises to keep in touch and be BFF no matter where our college careers took us. The goodbye parties got smaller and smaller as more state schools started up and sucked my friends into frat rush oblivion from whence they would never return the same. By the time I left for school, it was like "Make sure to turn the lights off when you leave."

But that did afford me the opportunity to road trip around the country visiting some friends after they had already started their new academic years. So myself and a couple of other refugees from the all-boys academy that I had previously escaped from decided to road trip up to St. Louis to visit a friend of ours that was attending Washington University. It was also a chance to use up the last of the really unbelievable weed I had brought back from Humboldt County after freshman year. My friends weren't gonna see anything like it again until I got back next year, and I would soon be where it literally grew on trees. (Once again, I'm not sure about the ole staute of limitations, but we're talking about 20 years ago.)

Our friend knew approximately when we would be arriving, but not exactly. Like not exactly which day. So he was quite surprised and a trifle unnerved when three whacked-out guys blew through his front door floating several inches off the floor in a cloud of green smoke. Especially since he had his first Physics mid-term exam in two hours and was in serious cramming mode.

"No problemo, dooooood. We'll just head on down to McDonald's and snarf on some beef burgers while you do that school stuff. We'll meet you for dinner after we eat."

The four block walk took about an hour, as we found ourselves frequently distracted by such hilarious things as a bird sitting on a window sill and a hopscotch game chalked onto the sidewalk. When we finally got to the restaurant, it was the middle of the dinner rush and we were in no condition for public consumption.

As we stood in the back of the line swaying to our internal soundtrack of Bob Marley and the Allman Brothers trying to decide which of the appetizing selection of munchie-satisfiers we were going to order, I got a smart-ass dumb-ass idea.

"I know. I'm going to choose based on the nutritional content information brochure."

These were a new addition to the fast food industry. I think they were a reaction to the Reagan administration assertion that ketchup counted as a vegetable in school lunch menus.

So I staggered to the front of the line and randomly grabbed a leaflet out of the stack on the edge of the counter. I returned to the back of the line and attempted to focues and read the small print. And then I started to giggle. And guffaw. And gasp. And eventually convulse on the floor. We were eventually swept out the door by some pimply-faced assistant manager wearing a particularly fetching striped uniform.

My friends were not amused. They were embarrased, disoriented and hungry.

"What the f*ck was that all about, asshole?!"

I unfolded the nutritional pamphlet and handed it to them. Whereupon they collapsed themselves, but onto the dirty sidewalk as opposed to the grease-covered McDonald's floor as I had had the aplomb to do.

Apparently, in the the entire stack of brochures, I had chosen the only one that had been defaced by the St. Louis chapter of PETA. Scrawled all over the chart of fat and caloric content were crude drawings of beheaded cows and bloody piles of cheeseburgers.

"Corporate Deathburger!" "Meat is Murder! Moo." "Clown Ronald smiles as millions starve for the grain that feeds our cattle."

Unfortunately, their message was lost on a giggling pile of post-adolescent potheads from Nashville. At the time, we were not what you would call "enlightened." I don't think our reaction was what the Earth Shoe-wearing, hemp-bedecked activist probably intended, but I still have that pamplet and treasure the memory.

Ironically, I don't do stuff like that anymore, but now my memory has gone to hell. The things that were supposed to kill my memory are still vivid, while I'm not sure what I had for lunch yesterday.

But I'll tell you what I didn't have...McDonald's.

Corporate deathburger, indeed.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Code Blue?

For the second time in a couple of weeks, somebody has bought the entire back page of the Nashville City Paper to advertise a dance club called Code Blue. The only information on the page is a web site address:

Both times I've gone there, the site has an "under construction" site place holder and an anticipated launch date of 4/1/06. This is either a really expensive April Fool's joke or some really stupid marketing people in inaction.

Just remember when you hipsters are paying a $20.00 cover charge to go see and be seen in this place whenever it does open, that the owners wasted a crapload of cover charges before they poured the first Jager bomb.


From the good folks at

I don't know what this is, but I gotta get me one! Can't be too careful these days, I always say.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A shocking admission

Everyone has seen either pictures or in person the devastataion that was wreaked north of Nashville by the tornadic activity of last week. All our hearts go out to the families of people who have lost friends, relatives or property. I've been thinking about it and I've come to a disturbing conclusion...I think it may have been my fault.

You see, I was out of town when it happened. I was also out of town when the tornados hit downtown and east Nashville on April 16, 1998. In both cases, the circumstances were eerily similar. Maybe I'm the opposite of a carrier. Bad stuff happens while I'm gone.

Not everyone remembers that the morning of 4/16/98 was a bad one. It was one of those days where the weathercasters were on edge during the early morning news shows. You can tell when they know it's gonna be a frantic day, and I think they make it worse with more coffee. All three stations had just installed their new radars that track activity al the way down to the town, neighborhood and street. I know it's a useful part of the early warning system, but it's really disturbing to hear them say something like, "If you live on Possum Trot Holler in Bugtussle, TN you need to take shelter immediately," like they know the neighborhood intimately. I don't think wild turkeys get WSMV.

The waves of bad thunderstorms began to sweep east around 6:00 am as I got out of the shower. I had a full day of calls planned in Memphis and then a three day convention stretching through the weekend. It's normally about a 3 1/2 hour drive west to Memphis, so I had planned to leave about 7:00. But then they started noticing tornadic activity all along the storm front. It looked like there were 3-4 separate bands screaming across the state at 70 MPH.

So what did your intrepid dumbass blogger decide? "Well, if I wait it out, it's going to take a couple of hours for all these systems to blow through Nashville. But if they're heading east at 70 MPH and I'm heading west at 75 MPH, I'll really only be in contact them for a little bit. Besides, what are the odds that anything really bad will happen exactly where I am with a relative velocity to the front of 145 MPH?" Overthinking can be a very dangerous thing.

So westward I headed. About 20 miles out of town, the Bob and Tom Show was interrupted by the grating shriek of the Emergency Broadcasting System. The completely discomforting voice of the EBS related that a tornado had touched down at Interstate 40 at mile marker 180. Well, if it hadn't been raining sideways with hail and sleet bouncing off of my windshield, maybe I could have seen a mile marker. When I did, I noticed it was 182. "Uh oh, that's not good."

Sticking to my original flawed logic, I plugged west, but my plan of 75 MPH was impossible since I couldn't see past my hood. Can you say sitting duck? Luckily, the tornado actually hit 1/4 mile from the interstate and then picked up and retreated into the superstorm. My 3 1/2 hour trip actually took about 5 hours.

When I got to Memphis, it was actually kind of a pretty day. The sun was out and every bit of moisture had been sucked from the air, spun around at 150 MPH and blasted against my truck several hours before. My Tahoe did look showroom fresh. I made calls all day with some of my Memphis employees, totally oblivious to what was happening in Nashville.

That afternoon, I checked into the hotel where the convention was being held and went up to my room. As I unpacked my suitcase I flipped on the TV and turned the channel to CNN. Here's a weather tip for you, if you ever turn on the national news and see your local weatherman standing there being interviewed, that's not a good thing. Additonally, if you're ever walking around and you see the Weather Channel's Jim Cantori walking around with in a blue rain slicker, get the hell out of Dodge.

I sat slack-jawed on the edge of the hotel bed and saw the first scenes of the devestation in downtown Nashville. The first reports were that the tornado had hit near Vanderbilt University. Vandy's a big place, but I live near Vanderbilt University. I immediately got on the cellphone to call RUABelle and check on her and the animals.

Luckily, I got through on the first call and she hadn't even noticed that anything had happened. Everybody was fine until I told her to turn on the news. Then we both realized the bullet we had dodged. Then the dumbass in me rose up again and said, "What about the Sportman's Grille?" Yes, I was concerned about our local watering hole. Unbelievably, she refused to walk down and check on it. I often wonder why someone as level-headed as her sticks with somebody as twisted as me.

Assured that she was ok, I continued watching CNN. The highlight of the coverage was when they got the publisher of the local paper, John Seigenthaler, on the line. As they interviewed him, Seigenthaler reached deep into his bag of poetic literary allusions to describe the wrath of God that had descended upon our burdgeoning metropolis. He painted a picture of the devilish cyclone and the swirling debris with great aplomb. Suddenly, the CNN anchor stopped him and said, "Mr. Seigenthaler, where were you when the storm hit that you could see this in such detail?"

"Why I was standing in my office in front of the big picture window facing toward the west."

"Don't you think that was an incredibly stupid thing to do with a tornado coming?"


Interview over.

So it was nice to see that somebody might have been at least close to as stupid as I was that day.

Again, I was totally oblivious to last week's storms until they were over. I had to hear about them over the phone on a call to the Knucklehead. I missed it. He lived it.

Just a warning to you all. I have to be out of town for about a week starting next Thursday. Hunker down.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

No she di-int!

Apparently State Senator Thelma Harper is ticked off because she wasn't asked by Shelbyville Senator Jim Tracy to co-sponsor a bill to put a Jack Daniel's museum in downtown Nashville. Her response was to threaten to sponsor a bill allowing a Kentucky Fried Chicken to open in his district.

Thelma, Thelma, Thelma. Me thinks your hat is screwed on a little bit too tight.

Can you imagine if a white senator made a KFC crack? That would not be pretty.

Green is not the only color at Augusta

One of my favorite bloggers to read, Kat Coble, skimmed my recollections of the Masters and had a very interesting misinterpretation. When I wrote about the "explosion of colors and people," she read it as "the explosion of colored people." A logical mistake to make at Augusta National.

But contrary to conventional wisdom, there were people of color at the event who were not named Tiger or Vijay. I saw several groups of well-dressed African Americans touring the course with the rest of the crowd. I, personally, didn't think twice about it until I heard the same comment come from not one, but five different patrons at different times during the day.

"Oh honey, look over there. I wonder what team they play for."

We're not all the way there yet, I'm afraid...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Azaleas, tranquility and a total asshat

I'm back from my Masters trip with the DogDoc. Sorry I didn't give more timely updates, but posting from my Treo wasn't easy since cellphones and PDAs are strictly verboten at Augusta National. First of all, I want to thank the Nashville Knucklehead for giving up his ticket this year so I could go for the first time.

I am not nearly poetic enough to express the beauty and majesty of the Masters course, but I will give my impressions. The trip was grueling and exhilerating at the same time. We figured out that we spent about 30 hours on the road over 4 days, and by the end my Tahoe reeked of spilled beer, beef jerky, Copenhagen dip cups and feet. I'd do it again tomorrow if my liver and circadian rhythms could handle it. It's a company truck, so I'll have to do a little work on that before I take any clients out anytime soon...

We stayed in a house on Lake Hartwell on the Georgia/South Carolina line about 2 1/2 hours from Augusta. Accomodations any closer are tough to come by, and since I was a guest there was no arguing with the transportation plans. Just shut up and drive. Even if one of the conditions of the ticket involved driving an extra couple of hours in the wrong direction to a Waffle House near Athens to pick up and give a ride to and spend the day with one of the most inbred, ignorant asshats I've ever met. More on him later.

Our foursome pulled into Augusta National at about 10:30 on Friday. I've been to Augusta on business several times and was never overly impressed by the town. It's a dirty, run-down city with strip mall after strip mall. I sensed a real tension among the citizens over racial and socioeconomic differences. I'd drive around the border of the golf club, but never saw inside the tall walls. You'd never guess what was behind those fences from the street outside.

From being regaled by past stories from the Knucklehead and the DogDoc, I was well prepared for the Masters experience. It sounds a little weird, but I was surprised by the fact that everything was exactly like they had described. They had told me about how small the whole layout is and that you can walk from one end to the other in 15 minutes. I was prepared for the elevation changes that the television just can't reveal. I knew about how polite and knowledgeable the crowd would be, and that the greatest lunch in the world may just be a cup of beer and a pimento cheese sandwich ($3.50 total!) from the snackbar along the #1 fairway. I had watched the tournament on TV for years, so I expected that the azaleas and dogwoods to be as colorful and beautiful as they were.

Even with all that preparation, I was competely overwhelmed by the place as I walked in the gates and onto the course. The explosion of colors and people and cheers had my head spinning as we walked the whole course before lunch. Two of my buddies had a combined total of over 40 Masters trips between them so they were excellent guides. Unfortunately, the other guy had been to the tourney for the first time the day before and blathered on like the expert he wasn't. Since we had to give him a ride back to Athens, we couldn't distance ourselves from him as we would have liked to. The $2.00 Budweisers started to add up for him and he couldn't pass a beer tent without buying two more. When he called John Daly a "big fat f*ck" from 15 feet away in the middle of his backswing, I thought we were all gonna get kicked out, our badges (which had been passed down for 50 years) confiscated and our sorry butts dumped in the middle of Washington Avenue by goons wearing green jackets. Luckily, as his buzz increased, he actually got quieter and ended up spending the last two hours on the course wandering around in small circles in front of the bleachers at Amen Corner, wondering where we had gone. Apparently he forgot that he was sitting with us there when he got up to get one or six more beers. As long as we could keep him in sight, we figured it was safer to maintain some distance.

We sat in those bleachers and watched about eight threesomes come through and play #11 and #12. The golf was exciting and the shot making superb, but I was actually spending most of the time taking mental snapshots of my surroundings to call up on bad days in the future when I need something good to concentrate on. The view looked like this:

Picture used with absolutely no permission, but if you wanna buy it, go here. There, that ought to cover me.

The efficiency with which the staff handled the crowd and the decorum with which the crowd handled itself was amazing. (Asshat excluded.) Considering the number of badges that go to friends of a friend or biz-pig executives or just any old yahoo who buys them on eBay, you'd expect folks to be less respectful and more ignorant. But the Masters is self-policing. It makes you want to behave. It makes you want to quietly applaud good shots and roar for great shots, even if you really don't like the person hitting them. Unless of course it's Curtis Strange, but that's a long-standing personal grudge on my part.

I had a friend in college who said she her father taught her that the word "awesome" should be reserved for God and the USC football team, but I would add another. The patrons at Augusta National are full of awe. (But wouldn't that make them "awful?" But I digress.) It is a place where everyone participating from members, to officials to players to caddies to spectators treats every moment as if it is special. I can't think of many other places or events like that, but I wish there were. And I'd crawl through hell wearing kerosene underwear for another chance to go back!

We spent the long ride back to the Waffle House listening to Asshat's opinions on why Tiger is such a great golfer, (his Mom instilled a real sense of excellence in her boy, Eldrick) why Phil Mickelson will never win another major, (he actually consults his caddie for advice on reading putts) and the fact that all of his children are bastards because he doesn't believe in abortion except for the second time his second wife got pregnant after he already realized he was a crappy husband and father so that one was OK. Nice call on Phil, too, by the way.

In an attempt to drown him out I turned the car stereo up loud and played an old album by an unsigned local band. He then proceeded to sing (howl) along with songs he didn't know and had never heard before. It was like bad predictive typing on your cell phone when you're text messaging. He would try to guess the next word of the lyric and garble along with where he thought the melody was going. It was truly excruciating.

Then the coup de grace. We had driven to the Waffle House from a different direction and we didn't know exactly how to get there from Augusta. And Budweiser Boy had forgotten where we met us.

"Don't you live near here?"

"Yeah, but I don't remember good. I think if you keep heading this way down the road, the Waffle House should be exactly behind us."

"So we should turn around then?"

"Only if you want to go to the Waffle House."

"Dude, you can't imagine how much we want to get to that freakin' Waffle House!"

So we finally found the place and slowed down long enough to roll him out the door of the truck. We returned to the course on Saturday, but between rain delays and missed meetings with people we were supposed to exchange the badges with, it was a total goat fornication. But the worst day at the Masters beats the hell out of the best day almost anywhere else.

When the lightning horn sounded ending our day prematurely, I stood in the rain and watched literally thousands of multi-colored umbrellas streaming across the course in a polite orderly fashion to head for shelter. No one was pushing. The crowd parted to allow people heading in the other direction to exits on other parts of the course. If you tried that in any other gathering of 40,000 wet sports fans, it would be like feeding a catheter into a pissed off lion. The dance of the undulating wave of spinning umbrellas was really quite beautiful. As I sipped on my beer, I noticed the rain was filling the cup as fast as I could drink it. It was a little watery, but hell it was a Miller Lite to start with. "A never emptying cup. This truly is a magical place."

And it is.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Who even plays golf at 6am?

Oh yeah, the best players in the freakin' UNIVERSE!

Who poured all that bourbon down my throat last night? Uncaring bastidges!


Thursday, April 06, 2006

C'mon baby, drive south.

The DogDoc and I are headed toward Augusta and a beer-fueled, golf-centric, Thelma and Louisish sojourn to the heart of the American Dream and the mecca of southern mandom-The Masters.

Expect further missives from the road.

Good Karma

After taking a $5 Nassau from the DogDoc at Harrison Bay in Chattanooga, he earned the driving honors as well. The first pit stop was in Acworth, GA.

After missing the turn to the gas station, Doc asked, "Can I make a u-turn here?"

"No," I replied. "And oh crap! There's cop in the other turning lane."

The police cruiser followed us into the station parking lot as I stuffed empty Miller Lite evindence bombs under the seat of my Tahoe.

In a semi-panic, I changed my mind at the last second and decided to throw the cans away in an old newspaper on the way to the bathroom. In retrospect, it might have worked if I hadn't loudly dumped a can on the ground as I opened the door.

I tried to casually scoop it up as I exited the truck. I probably looked as graceful as Dumbo on ice skates, but I got the evidence disposed of. Hell, since there's no beer allowed at TN state park courses, we'd only had a beer apiece. But we definitely felt like we'd been caught with our hands in the cookie jar.

So the next tactic was to wait him out in the bathroom. A quick peek revealed he wasn't going anywhere. Damn the genderme! Then DogDoc had an epiphany. "We need jerky." It's hard to argue with genius.

"Hey, he's just getting gas. He can't chase us with the nozzle in his tank."

"It could be a trap," I replied in a paranoid fog.

Nope, he was just filling up. So we casually ran to the truck and jumped in like the Duke boys. We got it fired up just in time...for the cop to finish pumping his gas and pull in behind us at the exit from the lot.

Hearts in our throats, we tried to guess which way to turn. Then he just pulled around the two freaking idiots he'd been following who he was tired of waiting on and continued his patrol.

"Yeah copper! We sure showed you who's the boss this time. You better not come messin' with these 2 Augusta-bound pilgrims!"

Middle aged dumb asses 1
The Man 0

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sometimes, you gotta know when to fold `em.

Holy crap! Did anybody see Kenny Rogers on American Idol last night?

His plastic surgery is so bad I don't even think he'd be eligible for this web site any more!

Funny how irony can be so...ironic.

So after yesterday's smart alec post about sending off my check to the Internal Revenue Service, what did I find in the mail when I got home?

That's right fans, a letter from the IRS demanding $2203 in unpaid back taxes from 2004 based on a capital gain from a stock I sold two years ago. It was my bookkeeping error and I really only owe about $200, but wish me luck explaining that to the bureaucratic automatons in the local IRS office.

The moral of the story: don't f-u-c-k with the I-R-S.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Be Vewwwwy Qwiet

Sorry, I know that's kind of a jolting image, but as I've been poking around the blogosphere, I've noticed a lot of attention being paid to Senator Charlotte Burks and her quest to ban sexual aids. So I thought I'd share my Rabbit story. (That's the Rabbit Habit pictured, by the way.)

I was at a cocktail party a couple of years ago and found myself talking to a group of women who I didn't know that well. My girlfriend, RUABelle, was out of earshot so I was flying solo. That's rarely a good idea because my boot often fits snugly in my piehole.

I don't quite remember how the conversation got headed in this direction, but I started to relate a story about when I had the opportunity to spend a month in Brazil on a Rotary Club group study exchange. This was right after 9/11 and RUABelle was none to pleased at the prospect of my leaving her alone for four weeks to go galavanting around a foreign country full of gorgeous foreigners.

The ladies at the cocktail party of course agreed with her that I was a total cad to abandon her. In an effort to defend myself up I told them how I had made her a care package to take care of her while I was gone. I had arranged through several web sites to have gifts delivered every week starting before I left until I got back. She received flowers, candles, bath salts and even one of those Ikea-esque fancy can openers in case she didn't have enough leverage to open a jar while I was gone.

The assembled women began to "ooh" and "aww" at my thoughtfulness, and then I pulled the coup de grace.

"But the best thing I got her was the Rabbit."

"You bought her a Rabbit?!" one of them asked. They knew RUABelle came from a fairly prim background and wouldn't normally want me talking about something this personal.

"Oh, yeah!" I continued. "There are some things she just can't do by herself when I'm not around. Her little arms just don't have enough strength."

I should have noticed their chins on their chests. "Ooh, you're the best boyfriend ever!"

"Nah, while I was gone I knew she'd want to use it almost every night. She's a first-grade teacher, and those kids drive her nuts sometimes. Heck, some times I even use it, but I prefer to do it old school."

Right then, my lovely girlfriend walked into the middle of a covey of women all atwitter. It took her about five seconds to reveal to everyone what a dumbass I was (am.)

I was talking about the Rabbit corkscrew...

I just wrote my annual check to the IRS.

It was check number 666. I'm chuckling to myself at the irony.

Take that, Uncle Sam!

Oh...I guess you just did.



I've found that blogging is kind of like hitting a tennis ball against a wall. The problem is that the wall is only a foot tall. You need to hit the ball really well to have any chance of anything bouncing back at you to hit again.

I'm learning to enjoy just knocking them into space, though.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

That guy's a hack.

Ok, I've been outed.

I used to play in a band with the Nashville Knucklehead. He tells the story of one of our more memorable gigs here.

But Knuck wasn't always available for our every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night shows at different O'Charley's. (Hey, it's just like Shoney's with a bar.) For months at a time, the Knucklehead would take off on various cruise ships to play show tunes and chase nubile young dancers and the occasional vacationing divorcee.

So we would have to find fill-in bass players to anchor the rhythm section. It got so bad that we proposed a bumper sticker that would have said "Honk if You've Played Bass for Conscious Pilot." Of course these were the days before, so we would have actually had to produce a bunch of them. Another bad idea mercifully dead on the vine.

One particular Thursday night, we were slated to entertain the young frat holes from Western Kentucky at the O'Charley's in Bowling Green. As of Wednesday night, we were still bass-less. Then our drummer had an idea. "I guess I could always ask Victor Wooten to play."

That would be THE Vic Wooten, of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. World renowned as one of the top bass players on the planet. The guy who tied with Flea as Bass Player Magazine's best bass player ever. I should mention that Vic was dating our drummer at the time.

No, he's not gay. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Our drummer was a cute, perky, pneumatic aerobics instructor who was also a great drummer. And she had a van, which is always good for a band. And she had Vic Wooten's phone number. So I said, "Yeah, I guess he'll do."

The other guitar player, the DogDoc, and I had met Vic a few times and were in awe of him. If you ever get a chance to spend time with Victor, you'll quickly discover that he is one of the most grounded, humble, down to earth people you'll ever meet. Like all of the Wootens, he is practically without sin. No drugs or alcohol has ever passed his lips. He has no ego, no attitude and is among the most talented musicians alive. Which is to say he had absolutely no reason playing with me and the DogDoc.

But play, he did. He and the drummer arrived just a few minutes before we were due to begin. While he helped her load in and set up, we were busy writing up the set list on a cocktail napkin. Keeping in mind that he had played Carnegie Hall and Letterman the week before, we searched our repertoire of cover tunes for a suitable opening song to introduce him to the wonderful world of Conscious Pilot. Yup, Alan Jackson's "Don't Rock the Jukebox" should do nicely.

Vic was a wonderful sport and actually seemed to enjoy playing with these two rubes in front of an audience of beer swilling college students who had no idea who he was. In retrospect, it might have had something to do with the fact that he was banging the other half of the rhythm section. Eventually, one enlightened artsy Western student figured out that the fellow playing the polyrhythmic, ultra-funky bottom end to Margaritaville was indeed the Grammy-winning master of the basso profundo. He walked up to the DogDoc in between songs and said in a loud whisper, "Dude, do you know that's Victor Wooten?" He went to the pay phone and called all the musicians that he knew and then plopped himself on the floor directly in front of Vic's mike stand. By the end of the set, there were about ten guys with scraggy hair all dressed in black staring adoringly up at Victor while sitting cross-legged on the carpet. Again, Vic was a great sport.

In between the first two sets, we traditionally ordered our free meal. If done properly, this could almost double the value of our pay. "I'm in kind of a hurry. Could I have two raw prime ribs to go?" While DogDoc and I split two baskets of hot wings and waited for our BCC sans (bacon, cheddar chicken in O'Charley's short hand), Vic perused the menu looking for something vegetarian or at least slightly healthy. I think he had a lettuce wedge.

With hot wing sauce still dripping from our fingers, we grabbed one of the guitars to show Vic a new song we were going to attempt during the next set. Neither DogDoc or I ever played a song like the record, because we couldn't. But we thought we could at least show Victor the structure as best we had figured it out.

Me: So Vic, we're gonna try something new for the first time next set.
DogDoc: It's a song called "Little Miss Can't be Wrong." It's pretty straight forward but it's got some weird stops in it.
Me: I think it's in A on the record, but we play it in G because it's easier that way.
DogDoc: The bass line kinda walks like this.
Vic: Oh yeah, that's by the Spin Doctors, right?
Me: That's right, they're a pretty rockin' new band out of Seattle.
Vic: Yeah, they opened for us on our last tour. I helped Mark White write that bass part.
DogDoc: Oh, so you know it then...

But as stupid as he could have made us feel, Vic always treated us with the respect we didn't deserve. We played many more gigs with him and that's something that I'll always be proud of.

However, he never sat in a Brentwood O'Charley's bar at 2:30 after everyone else had gone home knocking down shots of Rumpleminze and tipping $35 to the cute bartender, even though we'd only earned $50. The reason we saved the last $15 was because our bass player at the time knew that $15 was just enough to cover the entry fee and one lap dance at Deja Vu, "and those late shift strippers try harder." And I'll take that kind of bass player over virtuosity any day!

That would be the Knucklehead.