Friday, July 27, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Deep Blue Birthday...

Travis McGee is my man, and today is a special day in his life. His creator is my favorite all-around novelist. Read on, in this from The Writer's Almanac...

It's the birthday of mystery novelist John D. MacDonald, born in Sharon, Pennsylvania (1916). He wrote a series of novels, including The Deep Blue Good-By (1964) and Nightmare in Pink (1964), featuring Travis McGee, a beach bum detective who lives on a houseboat that he won in a poker game.

While he was serving in the army during World War II, MacDonald entertained his wife by writing her fictionalized stories in his letters. She liked one story so much that she typed it up and sent it to the magazine Story, where it was published. MacDonald was so surprised and happy that he devoted himself to writing.

He had four months of severance pay when he came home from the Army, so he spent those four months writing seven days a week, 14 hours a day. Everyone but his wife thought he was shell-shocked. By the end of the year, he was making a living selling short stories to pulp fiction magazines. He published 73 stories in 1949 alone.

He used his mystery novels to criticize what he called American junk culture: fast food, bad TV, and land development. He wrote, "I am wary of a lot of things, such as ... time clocks, newspapers, mortgages, sermons, miracle fabrics, deodorants ... pageants, progress, and manifest destiny."

** Congrats to "Sandge," winner of the most recent Mayberry After Midnight contest. A very impressive essay by Sandge is found in the comments of the previous post: he ties in Gomer Pyle and the World Rotary Tiller Championships in Emerson, Ark. Very impressive...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"I'm Back, Baby...!"

...and you didn't even know I was gone.

But I was, on the annual pilgrimmage to the holy land -- Carolina -- back home for the family reunion and assorted hijinks.

(Hope to have more pics soon; this is the only one that's been released to the media so far. Taken by the AP's Joe Cavaretta in November of 2002, it's of Max Baer Jr., who once played Jethro Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies television series, relaxing in his Las Vegas home in November. Lord, would he have fit in this weekend. I hope he's gotten a new bedspread since this picture was taken. And a shirt collar.)

But thank you for asking and yes, I had fun -- as much fun as you can have with a bunch of hillbillies. The big thing this reunion was a recent discovery my family made, and four Allens, including yours truly, actually brought some to show everybody. They are called "shoes."

Thanks for the posts in the meantime. A couple of notes along those lines...

JULY 3 POST: Check out the "hair" explanations from Yankee Dan and Gemini especially; interesting explanations for the picture and charity event...

JULY 11 POST: Sandge has an interesting comment on the most recent Mayberry After Midnight post about this Tiller Racing post; like saber tooth tigers and families at reunions, the two feed off each other...(It might be noted that saber tooth tigers are extinct for that very reason. So are saber toothED tigers.)

OK! That said, let's play! Despite impressive competition, Barbara from Oklahoma won our most recent round and will receive a prize should she send her mailing address.

NEW RULE FOR THIS TIME: Just for giggles, the winner will be EITHER the writer who most appropriately and thoroughly explains the button here (as it was used in an actual Andy Griffith Show episode), or the writer who has the best explanation of how the quote could be used -- but wasn't -- on the show.

Good luck, and Gomer says hey...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

World Championships Rotary Tiller Racing Update, or "The Dirt Clods Were Flyin' and the Tines, They Were a-Spinnin'..."

As promised, we bring you the results of the World Championships Rotary Tiller races, the 2007 Edition, held semi-recently in Emerson, Ark.

News out of Emerson is slow, but the tillers ain't! And hey, better late than never. We all should have been there in person anyway when Erica Butler, pictured here, raced to her third world title in her division. The pride of Louisiana, Erica is a junior at Louisiana Tech and claims Homer as home.

Read on brothers and sisters...

July 1, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact person: Bill Dailey, Pea-R Person
Web site:

Waller and Butler Repeat in Tiller Race

The times were slower than previous years, but the results essentially the same at the World Championship Rotary Tiller Race in Emerson, Arkansas, Saturday.

Shane Waller of Junction City, Arkansas, won the men’s division of the race of souped-up garden tillers for the fourth straight year. Waller tilled the 200-foot track of plowed ground in 6.03 seconds, about three-tenths of a second off his world record of 5.72 seconds set in 2004. (It's hard to get a good photo of Waller, pictured here; he's too fast.)

Race officials said the track was slightly slower this year due to it purposely being tilled deeper during preparation, in an effort to slow the race down and increase safety.

“It’s soft,” said Waller, referring to the track conditions. “It slows your time down, but it’s easier on your knees," he observed. That was important to Waller, since on a couple of occasions the tiller dragged him down the track after he lost his footing.

"I got a lot closer to the record than I thought I would,” he added.

The win came despite that fact that Waller had been without his usual practice time this year, having been away on business.

“I’ve been behind it three times counting this morning,” he said.

Billy Robertson of El Dorado placed second in the competition, while Donny Cole, also of El Dorado, came in third. (Notice Robertson's eyewear ajar in this action shot.)

In the women’s division, Erica Butler of Homer, Louisiana, won for the third straight year. Butler’s best time was 7.53 seconds, over 1.3 seconds slower than her world record of 6.19 seconds, set in 2005.

Butler, 20, a junior at Louisiana Tech University, also made note of the track’s condition. “It’s too deep,” she said. “It was hard to run in.”

Marilynn Smith of Homer, Louisiana, placed second in the Ladies Modified Division, while Jessica Knight of El Dorado came in third.

Both Waller and Butler were racing with “Radio Flyer,” the world’s fastest garden tiller. In a competition that included a number of false starts and stalled engines, Radio Flyer never hesitated.

“The tiller ran perfectly,” said Butler. “Couldn’t ask for more.”

In other divisions, former world champion tiller racer Wayne Waller took first place in the “Rip Roaring” division, a category in which the gearbox and frame must be from a genuine tiller.

In the “Stock Tiller” division, Adam Waller of Parkers Chapel, Arkansas, came in first.

In the “Powder Puff” division, Britni Bailey of El Dorado took top honors.

Among the “Kids Flower Bed” division, Drew Waller of Junction City, Arkansas, came in first among the boys, while his sister, Kaylin Waller, won the girls category of the race. Drew and Kaylin are the children of world record holder Shane Waller, and three-time former ladies champion, Lauri Waller.

The World Championship Rotary Tiller Race is the feature event of the annual Emerson PurpleHull Pea Festival.

Now for the World Cup PurpleHull Pea Shelling Competition. Pea-shelling athlete Doeleta Weaver (far right) of Emerson successfully defended her title and smashed her former world record in the process. She shelled 1 lb. 1-3/4 oz. of purple hull peas in a 5 minute heat. That's a lot of good eatin' in a short amount of time.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Sap City

Below you will read an Associated Press story about a man who duct-taped limbs to his body and, disguised as a tree, robbed a bank.

The law cut him down.

This is turning into an epidemic, as these photographs suggest. So, be careful. Especially if you climb one -- you could become an accessory.

This "tree" on the right is wanted for a liquor store robbery in Arizona. Be careful if you see it; it will probably be drunk.

This gang of trees is suspected in five or six ax murders in the Northwest.

This oak is disguising itself as a Chinese fringe tree and holding up dry cleaning establishments in California, mainly around San Francisco and Carmel. This photo was taken by a security camera.

This little "tree," disguised as a big tree, robbed a bank in Birmingham but was not so lucky in its getaway. It is currently serving time in a prison made, coincidentally, of wood. Oh, the irony...

Again, the good guys win sometime. The "tree" below was hauled in for questioning after trying to knock off a Hickory Farms kiosk in December in Des Moines.

Robber disguised as tree hits N.H. bank
Sun Jul 8, 2:54 PM ET

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Leaf it to New Hampshire, where a bank branch was held up by a man disguised as a tree.

Just as the Citizen Bank branch opened Saturday morning, a man walked in with leafy boughs duct-taped to his head and torso, and robbed the place.

"He really went out on a limb," police Sgt. Ernie Goodno said Sunday.

Police said the leafy man didn't saying anything about having a weapon, just demanded cash, and was given an undisclosed amount.

Although the branches and leaves obscured much of the man's face, someone who saw images from the bank's security camera recognized the robber and called police.

Officers said James Coldwell, 49, was arrested early Sunday at his Manchester home and charged with robbery. Arraignment was not expected until Monday.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and ... a hair brush?

Big hair winner Tricia Nathan of Grafton, Mass., salutes to the judges during the Imperia Vodka Hair Competition in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, June 2, 2007. Nathan competed against more than 40 contestants for the biggest hair and won the first place prize of $7,500 as they raise money for breast cancer. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)


Now here's a lady who's got a lot of hair. I didn't notice until the 15th or 16th glance that her hair is wrapped around her, sort of right there in the chest area. I bet that's hard to brush.

I find these photos interesting but at the same time strangely disconcerting.

Man, (talking loud so he can be heard from the den to the bathroom): "Honey, you about ready?"
Lady with the hair: "Ohhhhh!...I can't get these stupid red stripes to do right!"

But, who am I to talk about anybody's hair, right?!

The point is, Happy Fourth! Wear a hat.