Archive for January, 2008


Image Search: “Cell Phone Toilet”

January 30, 2008

That’s right, I did it. Maybe it was karma.  (It happened about ten minutes after I skipped out on a family obligation.)


The above is not an accurate representation. I had not yet flushed.

The bastards at Alltell made me put in a $50 deposit for the loaner. “But I have insurance,” said I, proud of my forethought.

“Great,” the clerk said. “You can get a new phone just like your old one for fifty bucks!”

“But my old one smells like poop,” I said.

“Not exactly like, then,” she said. “Minus the smell.”


On the bright side, my image search for “cell phone toilet” did bring me to the above blog, in which “McGlinich” takes requests for drawings and posts them.  Which, if I could draw, I would sooo copy that idea.

So anyway, I know I’m not the first one.

Just thought I’d share.



The People Upstairs

January 29, 2008

6:00 a.m.

I’m standing in my bathroom with the lights on and the fan off, listening to my upstairs neighbors scream at each other.

“This is something I will not tolerate!” he says. His new wife sobs in the deep background. She sounds a little bit like a cat in heat when she cries. It’s become a familiar sound.

This young couple has been here about three months, been married since just before Christmas. She’s a dumpy, emotional blonde and he’s a wiry, earnest southern boy. The kind of people I grew up with. They’ve had numerous run-ins with my roommate and the girl who occupies the third apartment in our house, but I’ve only seen them in passing and heard them through the ceiling. They screw and they fight at odd hours. Sometimes they do both simultaneously. When they start, I turn up the volume on my radio, or I turn everything off and listen.

“I wake up six in the morning and you’ve got the bedroom door locked!” he yells.

The faucet dribbles loud, drowning them out and reminding me I should probably feel guilty for listening in this way.

“You are so fucked up right now,” he goes on.

“I am not fucked up right now,” she wails.

“You are so fucked up.”

I long ago determined that this pair is country and crazy. I’ve speculated that one or both of them is on meth. But, because I’m writing a story about a meth dealer, I suspect that everyone is on meth lately. My own fiction tends to creep up on me that way. Or I creep up on it.

“I did two bags in the morning,” she whines, “because I couldn’t even walk.”

He says something about insurance. Busting his ass to pay insurance. My damned faucet leaks.

“You want me to call your dad?” He says.

“No,” she answers.

“You want me to call George and tell him his daughter is relapsing? What would he say about that?”

“He would be very disappointed in me,” she says, weeping harder. She sounds like a five year-old reciting a well-worn admonition she doesn’t quite understand.

“You said when we got married you were through with this shit,” he says.

“You hate me,” she screams, accusing.

“I love you,” he says, softer, his voice breaking.

“I love you,” she says.

“I love you so much.” He crashes over the so much like a hard salt wave.

I flush, obscuring the last, hollow, conciliatory words. We’re all blind.    How easy it is to see from down here.



The Time Cube: Are you listening? Do you hear?

January 23, 2008


Gene Ray knows his timecube. And all I’m saying, you know, is give the timecube a chance. Check it out. Maybe it’s for you. Or maybe you’d be more comfortable “erasing yourself by ignoring cubic 4-day creation.” No pressure, is what I’m saying.



Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

January 23, 2008

If you haven’t been, go this year. Especially if you’re at all into Sheep, wool, or lamb-burgers. That’s all I’m going to say about it.



The KKK and the Battle of Hayes Pond

January 18, 2008

I grew up just across the Big Swamp from Robeson County, North Carolina, the home of the Lumbee tribe of Native Americans. lumbee-spec.jpg

Having known many members of the tribe throughout my life, I’ve always been somewhat fascinated with them individually and as a group. They’ve been through a lot as a tribe and have produced some truly notable people and stories that have captured my imagination.

One of which is the Battle of Hayes Pond.

In 1958, the South Carolina Ku Klux Klan was led by a charismatic radio preacher named James W. “Catfish” Cole. The existence of the Lumbee just across the north Carolina border irked Cole, as no doubt did their mysterious origins. Cole called them mongrels and made it his personal mission to harass the tribe.

In early January of that year, someone burned a cross in the yard of a Lumbee woman they accused of consorting with a white man. Soon after, the Klan began distributing fliers advertising a major rally at Hayes Pond, near Maxton. Cole was quoted as predicting that 500 Klansmen would attend the rally, at which he was speaking.

Only about 50 Klansmen showed, some with their families in tow. Cole tested the PA system, playing a hymn over the loudspeakers.

The total number of attendees would surpass even Cole’s estimation, however, as approximately 500 well-armed Lumbee men gathered just up the road. Some described the mood as tense. At least one had another feeling:

“It was like you were going to the fair,” he said. “You didn’t know exactly what you were going to do when you got there, but you were excited about going.”

What happened next, from the Fayetteville Observer’s Anniversary Coverage:

A few minutes before the rally was to begin, Sanford Locklear, who came up from Pembroke, began arguing with Cole. Words became shoves as tempers rose. Then the first shot was fired — a shotgun blast that shattered the only light in the field.

That was enough for most of the Klansmen. As dozens of Indians shot into the air, peppering the field with birdshot, dozens of Klansmen scattered into the woods. Cole was among them, leaving his wife, Carolyn, behind. In a panic, she drove their car into a ditch, where several Indians helped push her out.

“The only thing they left behind was their stuff and their families,” Littleturtle said.

The state patrol, who had been waiting about a mile away, moved in when gunfire broke out. Sheriff McLeod, who later said he didn’t want to be accused of defending the Klan by showing up early, helped find lost Klansmen in the bushes and directed them out of Robeson County. He also booked one Klansman for public drunkenness — the only arrest that night.

Within minutes, and thanks to a couple of tear-gas grenades, the field was clear. “It seemed like an hour, though,” Littleturtle said.

Their foe routed, the victors began collecting spoils. Simeon Oxendine and Charlie Warriax snagged the large KKK banner from the flatbed truck. Others playfully donned some of the Klan robes left behind and fired their shotguns into the air.

Then they held one last Klan parade into Maxton. Some rode in cars and pickups; others marched. The parade and celebration ended with a bonfire of Klan material in Pembroke, where Cole was burned in effigy.

If you’re keeping score, I think that would be Lumbee 1, KKK 0.


Whose Mouse Are You…really?

January 17, 2008

This was my favorite book as a young child!


It also scared the crap out of me on a regular basis.

The colors still freak me out a little.

It’s about a mouse who finds himself all alone. As I recall, he spends most of the book wandering around talking to various woodland creatures who ask him why he has been abandoned by his family and sent into exile in a cold, indifferent world.

Or, as one Amazon reviewer put it:

A small grey mouse with enormous ears is asked by the narrator who he belongs to. Why, he’s nobody’s mouse!! Where’s his mother? Inside the cat!! Where’s his father?? Inside a trap!! What about his sister?? She’s lost, far, far away… My goodness!! Well, what is he going to DO about it, then?? I’ll let you read to find out his fun, creative answers to his life’s problems!

Parents dead. Sister out wandering the streets somewhere. They just don’t write children’s books like they used to.

But this was written in the 70’s, when 3 year-olds were expected to be tough. I had a job by the time I was 3. Smoked Camels unfiltered. Had my heart broken. I’d been around, see, and I knew what this mouse was feeling. Toddlers these days, they got the world handed to them on a silver platter. Barney my ass.



South Carolina Politics…be ashamed.

January 16, 2008

 Why is it this kind of crap happens in SC every time and not in other states?  (Below was an editorial cartoon apparently sent to newspaper editors in SC).   Seriously, someone should be ashamed.  The good thing is, unlike GW’s dirty tactics just before the 2000 primary, surely the backlash from this can only help McCain.  I mean, nobody’s buying into this….

…are they?



The house by the side of the road:

January 7, 2008

The story goes that whenever my Grandpa Leo caught hell from Grandma for spending all day tinkering with someone’s broke down riding mower and neglecting something he was supposed to do around the house, he would quote from the Foss Poem:

“Ah Mag,” he’d say, “Let me live in my house by the side of the road, and be a friend to man.”

Thanks to Uncle Merle, by the way, for recounting that story at the funeral (and reading the Foss poem, which really captures Grandpa’s role in his community.) And thanks to Sissy for taking lots of great pics of his old place, like this one:


I only heard of him turning down a request once, when some of the Deacons of his church came by to ask a favor. They had just fired the pastor (who was a reformed Catholic and was rumored to drink beer) for being a member of a bowling league that bowled on Sundays. (This pastor always maintained he did not himself roll on the sabbath.)

The deacons wanted Grandpa to build a sign, something visible from the highway, that would explain why the church had dismissed this popular figure.

Grandpa, ever the friend to man, declined.


The House by the Side of the Road

January 4, 2008

by Sam Walter Foss

“He was a friend to man, and lived
In a house by the side of the road.”
— Homer

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man. –

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man. –

I see from my house by the side of the road,
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears,
Both parts of an infinite plan-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice.
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone. –

Let me live in my house by the side of the road-
It’s here the race of men go by.
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish- so am I;
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.



January 4, 2008