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It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...Star Wars

The air outside is crisp. You can see your breath and the end of your nose is red and cold. The houses that you pass have Christmas trees in the windows. There are lights arranged all over the front lawns. The stores are all lit up and twinkling. The bell ringers are sitting in front of the shops collecting your spare change for charity.

But it’s not a Christmas party that we’re going to tonight.

I’m sitting in a restaurant with my wife and my daughter. It’s not a fancy place. “It’s not the Shangri-La,” as I’ve been known to say in description of any place that doesn’t require a jacket and tie. No, this is just a hamburger joint.

We’re sitting in a booth enjoying big, fat cheeseburgers, shoestring fries, and ice cream sundaes. There is electricity in the air. There is a smile on my face. This is a special day.

At the table next to us there are two men about my age. They’re having a casual conversation about their work and if you just listened to the words you’d think they were in bus…
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The Big Boy

As I was driving in work the night shift this evening I saw something that I haven’t seen in a very long time.

I had just pulled off I 20/59 where it runs through downtown Birmingham and just before it gets to the dreaded “Malfunction Junction”. Anyone from Birmingham knows what I’m talking about. I pulled down to 17th street and stopped at a red light, waiting to turn. Across the street there was a construction site and a huge crane that stretched a hundred or so feet into the sky. On top of that crane was a platform that had a couple of big, heavy duty metal containers on it…the kind that would be loaded onto a flat car for a train. He was standing on top of that.

The Big Boy.

You know who the Big Boy is. He’s the smiling mascot for a giant hamburger that has been passed around to various restaurant chains for decades. He’s probably most recognizable if you’ve seen the Austin Powers movies. Dr. Evil used him has a spaceship.

As I sat there in my car and looked up at him, smiling wi…

The White Thing

In the Himalayans they have the Yeti, also known as the Abominable Snowman. In the mid-western United States they have the Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot. Down south of the border they have El Chupacabra.  And up north there are tales of the Jersey Devil. The world is full of monsters, even though you never see them. You hear the stories of the people that say that they have. And while it’s easy to write them off as the ramblings of a crazy person there is always a part of you that believes it and is a little bit frightened by it.

All over the world there are different versions of the same tale. In the south we have a monster, too. It’s called the White Thing.

You can ask people that live in the country portions of central Alabama if they’ve ever heard of the White Thing. Most of them will tell you “yes”. It’s a story that we’ve all been told. It’s an easy way to scare children around a campfire and a villainous way to get them to go to sleep at night or to be home before dark.


Cocktails anyone?

Let me tell you about the first time that I ever got drunk.

The first time that I got drunk is also the only time that I’ve ever been drunk. People that know me well know that I don’t drink. I’ve been known to have beer on occasion but I never drink more than one. Hard alcohol is not something that I generally partake in either.

This isn’t because of some moral thing. I have no feelings at all about people that drink. There is nothing wrong with it if you don’t let it control you. I’ve just never developed much of a taste for alcohol. Usually in social gatherings I’m the guy that’s drinking a Diet Coke.

But I have been intoxicated at least one time in my life and it was the most terrifying experience of my childhood.

Yes…I said childhood. I was eight years old.

I was sick one evening. I was running a small fever and I was coughing a good bit. So, my parents decided that to make sure I got a good night’s sleep they would give me an adult dose of Nyquil. I don’t know what that green li…

A Good Girl

Let me tell you about a good girl.

The year was 2003 and it was Christmas Eve. I was doing something that I had never done before and as far as I can remember I haven’t done since. I was putting on a red and white suit, a big ol’ floppy red hat, and a fake white beard. I was about to go into the living room and pretend to be Santa for my kids. Santa was going to show up, laugh a little, give the kids a hug, and give them a very special gift.
I was looking at that gift as I put the hat on my head. A little brown Labrador retriever that was only about two months old was looking back at me with her head cocked to one side with a question in her eyes.

“Why are you putting that on your face?” she seemed to be thinking.

“Are you ready to go?” I asked. She just looked at me. Of course I was the one talking to a puppy like she was going to reply so there is that.

I picked her up and put her in a box that had already been gift wrapped. I patted her on the head and told her not to be scared. S…

Tales From The Bookstore

Books are in my blood.

I have read them. I have tried to write them. I love to collect them. The smell of a dusty old library is a scent that I wish I could bottle and take home with me. If they made a scented candle that made my house smell like books I would buy a lifetime supply.

I love to be around books. And even though I don’t read as much these days as I did in my youth, I still love the feel and the weight of a good book. I like to talk about them. I love to compare them to the movies they spawn. So, it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise when I graduated high school and I decided to get a job in a book store to help me work my way through college.

My idea of a bookstore when I was a kid was a lot different than what I ended up experiencing. When I was a child the closest thing that I had to a bookstore in my small town was the city library. So, on the rare occasion that I actually got to visit a real one at the mall was a special treat. They had so many more books than the l…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1995

I was 17 when I graduated from high school. I was a little younger than most of the other kids in my class because my birthday was in the summer. Like most kids that age I didn’t really have an idea of who I was. Up until that point in life you’re usually told who you are. You’re a student. You’re a son. Clean your room. Study chapter 12. Get a job.

But one thing that I knew about myself was that I loved film, and the year that I graduated there were a ton of them to pick from. Maybe not enough to completely erase the fear that a teenage boy had of facing the real world but still enough to keep him occupied while he dealt with it.

As I look back at 1995 and the films that we got that year I realize that I have a very difficult decision. How do you decide which of these movies is your favorite. Bruce Willis came out with the last good Die Hard movie when Die Hard With A Vengence came out. Tom Hanks and Ron Howard changed the way movies were made with Apollo 13. Pierce Brosnan took ove…

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