Friday, November 27, 2009

Redneck Toys; or, Getting Unstuck

Sometimes we rednecks just want an excuse to play with our toys. Which explains the picture here. My father, seated in his tractor, and David, my Aunt Marie's husband, decided this would be the best way to pull a golf cart (upper left corner of picture)
out of the mud on my grandparents' back 40 yesterday. My daughter and a cousin got that stuck, and as you can see, my dad got stuck trying to get them unstuck. Hilarity ensued.

So my cousin Kelly and I mosey down and promptly remove the golf cart from the mud in a matter of minutes. Several hours later – OK, maybe two hours – and after many failed attempts, we finally free the tractor of its muddy moorings.

As Kelly and I noted, if they'd just called us in the first place, we could've gotten the golf cart out ourselves and saved them the grief of the tractor being stuck. But I'm not really sure Dad and David minded so much. When Dad finally backed it out of the ruts, David let out a "Whoooooo!"

Hey, toys are fun.

Today's Redneck Thought: "What do you call a bunch of tractors sitting outside a McDonald's in Arkansas? Senior prom."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Flaunt It; or, Redneck Fail

There's nothing wrong with being a redneck – in fact, I'm proud to be one – but I don't see the need to always flaunt it. And if you're going to flaunt it, at least do it tastefully, if that's possible.

I was driving up Highway 45 this afternoon when I passed a nice white minivan. And on the trunk were a pair of mudflap girl stickers. You know the ones I'm talking about, the kind usually found on the mud flaps of a big rig. I'm going to assume the guy has kids, because, you know, he was driving a minivan. Epic Parenting Fail.

Speaking of Epic Parenting Fails, here's one. And another one. And then there's that sign in Birmingham for a local "caferteria." And then there are people who hang fake bull testicles from their trailer hitch. And then there are people who paint their cars to look like a stock car. And then there are those Carl Hogan Automotive commercials. And then there's the mullet. And then there's Billy Ray Cyrus. Might as well hang a sign around your neck that says, "Howdy, I'm just a dumb ol' redneck! Shoot!"

So what I'm saying is, rednecks can be dignified. We can have class. We don't have to fulfill all the negative stereotypes. So next time, Mr. Minivan, try one of those "My Child Is An Honor Student" bumper stickers. They're annoying, sure, but at least they doesn't make me want to call social services on you.

Today's Redneck Thought: "Son, don't pistol whip your sister." My wife, to our 5-year-old son

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Tight Spot; or, Just a Little Mud

See this picture here? I captured it in West Point last week on the way home from Starkville. Yes, that is a huge chunk of grass sticking out of the top. I can only imagine what this guy did. I thought about asking him when he pulled into a gas station, but then I chickened out.

So I tried to think what sort of situation he could possibly have gotten into. It looks like he rolled the thing, but I saw no damage to the vehicle. The placement and pattern of the mud splatter baffle me. Maybe a sod truck dropped part of his load as the guy drove past him.

This is one of those "write your own caption" pictures, I guess. And it reminds me how rednecks tend to find themselves in odd predicaments. Like a Charlie Daniels song, or like the time I got married – just kidding, wifey! – or like the time me and three friends slept in the front of a Ford Ranger, instead of our tent, because we thought we heard wild hogs running close by.

I mean, aren't some of the best Southern stories about being in a pickle? Like Jerry Clower and the coon huntin' story. Or Ron White getting literally thrown out of a bar in New York. We just have a knack for getting in a "tight spot," to quote Ulysses Everett McGill.

But as long as you come out the other side with no more than a little mud on you, I guess you're OK.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I Hate Walmart; or, No Smiley Face Here

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I hate Walmart. I loathe going there, and of course, I go all the time. It's like they've got a gun to my head. "Oh yeah, where else you gonna shop on your budget? Kroger? Ha! That's for rich people, folks who drive Dodge Magnums."

It might have something to do with the fact that I worked at a Walmart the summer after my senior year of high school. I thoroughly did not enjoy it. Checking out 50 jars of baby food at a time, installing toilet paper dispensers, "zoning" – I hated it, plus it was interfering with my baseball. I finally called in "sick" one day because I knew it was probably going to be my last baseball game, ever. It was – an all-star tournament in Monroe, La. I never went back to work at that joint.

Later on, as I was trying to save money for getting married, I worked about a month at a Sam's Club in St. Louis. That much time in a walk-in freezer messes with a man's brain (and sanity).

Exacerbating my misery was incompetent management, but that's another rant for another day. The only thing I gained from those experiences was a greater appreciation for the college degree I eventually earned. Nothing wrong with working at Walmart, but it ain't for me. I'd rather dig ditches or be a kamikaze pilot.

Is it anti-American of me to hate Walmart? I'm all for capitalism, but there's such a thing as being too ubiquitous (see: Notre Dame football, Ryan Seacrest, Chris Berman). And Walmart just has no personality. I mean, they had to steal the (ubiquitous) smiley face, which they didn't even come up with. It's a dull, depressing place to me. It's where Collin Raye's subject in "Little Rock" went to start over while rehabbing.

This brings me to a Web site I came across earlier today. The only fun thing about going to Walmart is the, um, scenery. Especially late, late at night. The Web site,, is devoted to documenting the odd assortment of folks who darken Walmart's automatic doors. Frightening stuff.

So I'm with my wife. We need a Target here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Redneck and His CrackPhone; or, Crap Again!

Further proof that rednecks just shouldn't have nice things. Stupid driveway! You know, they call iPhones "CrackPhones" because of their addictive nature. Got a whole new meaning now. And I always said it would never happen to me.

Of course it didn't have a case on it, because that $30 piece of crap fell apart two weeks ago. But hey, at least I didn't drown this one. And at least it still works, although it'll probably give me lacerations on my face one of these days. Still love my iPhone, but I never had this problem with that old school Nokia.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gut Check; or, the Southern Male Physique

I'm kind of ticked off. Used to be, the beer gut was the exclusive domain of redneck men (and a few redneck women). Oh, I suppose a bulbous belly is common among men of all cultures and eras, but nobody has worn it better than us. We take our beer guts seriously. And any time Yankees want to stereotype us – like in the movie "A Time to Kill" – they have our stomachs protruding from underneath a wife-beater.

I've got a bit of one myself, and I'm conflicted, because I don't particularly like carrying it around. I almost got rid of it last year, but then I slacked off in my workouts, and it's back to spare tire size. Although it's not really beer that's made it grown so much as the abundance of sweets that find me at every turn. (Hey, you know how it is in the South; work, church, parties, weddings, funerals, festivals, holidays, ballgames, breakfast – we'll find any excuse to bake a cake.)

Anyway, now that America is as fat as ever, the beer gut is as prominent as ever – especially in Mississippi, where we're No. 1! There should be a distinction, though: Just because you're obese doesn't mean you have a beer gut. This guy has a natural beer gut. This guy needs to lay off the fried Twinkies. Let's not tarnish the beer gut's good name by equating it to morbid obesity. Growing a beer gut is just a natural part of a man's maturation. That's why it takes so much work to get rid of one, except for those select few who could eat nothing but gristle all day and still stay skinnier than Calista Flockhart. I'm pretty sure those kind of people are aliens. Flockhart is for sure.

But like I said, I'm not overly fond of my own gut. Probably my vanity, which often blinds me to the fact that I'm 33 years old with a wife, four kids and a full-time job. Besides, my wife says she likes my love handles – and there's a reason they're called love handles. (Yeah, I said it.)

I should probably stop fighting it. And finish this Samuel Adams before it gets warm.

Today's Redneck Thought: This.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What's in a Name? or, Spellbound

My wife and I have four children, and I feel confident in saying that none of them have extraneous letters in their names. This makes us outcasts in a place like Mississippi, where being original in naming your children means shoving as many silent, useless letters as you can into each name. Or just making up a new spelling altogether. There's this one kid I know named Bayleigh. Seriously. I also know/have heard of Ashleigh, Braedan, Maxx and Madeleine.

And I have a friend named Geoff who doesn't understand why his folks didn't spell it Jeff. As he recently wrote on his Facebook page, "people from kindergarten to elderly routinely mangle my name, sometimes even asking me why I spell it that way, as if I popped out of the womb with a crumpet in one hand, quill in the other, and demanded, with an aristocratic air, that I be Jeff with a G."

I don't necessarily have a problem with how people spell their kids' names, but as Geoff can attest, they're setting them up for a lot of frustration down the road. And not just them, but the people who will unwittingly misspell these names on legal documents or in box scores. I mean, how else could you possibly spell Brittany? You'd be surprised: Brittni, Britni, Britney, Brittani … I've run across all of these spellings – and probably others – in my time as a journalist, because it seems a lot of girls with that name play high school sports.

I've never been crazy about androgynous names, either, but they're en vogue: Ashton, Carter, Madison, Peyton/Payton. I can't really talk, because my son's first name could also be used for a girl.

What happened to good old Southern names? Actually, they're still around, but they come in pairs. Sarah Beth, Anna Catherine, James Henry – and that's cool, but sometimes such a trend is annoying simply because it's a trend.

Maybe I'm this way about names because my sisters and I were given simple, easy-to-spell names. Just to screw with people, maybe I should start going by Bradleigh.

Today's Redneck Thought: "And if I ever have a son, I think I'm gonna name him … Bill or George, anything but Sue! I still hate that name!" – Johnny Cash, "A Boy Named Sue"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Redneck Easter; or, Making Do

I know, I've been a deadbeat blogger again. I've got a couple of things I want to write about, but right now I'm at work. But I ran across something I must share, via FAIL Blog. It's what happens when a divorced guy gets his girl Easter weekend and then realizes that she wants to hunt easter eggs (I'm assuming that's what happened). No telling what's in those eggs, either.

Here it is. Good grief.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Women & Guns; or, Don't Make Me Call My Sister

Growing up, I would sometimes get into a tiff with my younger sister, Rachel. Yes, shocking, I know. But she always started it.

Anyway, I'll admit that I was not always the clear victor in these tussles, because she cheated. Well, that, and she's pretty tough. Nowadays it's her job, if the situation calls for it, to kick somebody else's butt. She's in the Air Force and owns many guns, which makes her awesome (on top of her intrinsic awesomeness; I mean, she is related to me). She's stationed in Germany but is stateside for a few weeks as she prepares for her second deployment to Iraq. So I got to see her last week.

And how did we bond? By cleaning our guns, of course. Well, she did most of the cleaning. I hadn't cleaned my Ruger 9mm in so long that dust had collected in the barrel. Heck, I haven't shot the thing in years. Sad, I know. Like leaving a brand-new car in the garage.

My son, being 5 and male, was eager to "help" us clean the guns (as seen above). We even let him hold them, all the while stressing safety, of course. That's the problem with people and guns these days – too many people who don't respect guns and their power own them. No amount of government screening will keep all such idiots from buying them, I'm afraid.

OK, mini-tangent over. Point is, you don't want to mess with my sister. Really, you don't want to mess with most Southern women, especially the ones who pack heat. My dad has told many a time the story of my late grandmother running off some strangers with her pistol. This is the same woman who could wring a chicken's neck – with one hand. I was young when she died, but I knew enough not to cross her.

We Southern guys like to act tough, but I'm not ashamed to say it: You mess with me, and I'll call my sister.

Today's Redneck Thought: "I'm gonna show him what little girls are made of/Gunpowder and lead." – Miranda Lambert, "Gunpowder and Lead"

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Love Rekindled; or, One More Shot

Curse you, golf, you incorrigible tease. I take you on for a one-time fling – our first since ending an on-off, love-hate relationship more than seven years ago – and I'm unable to extricate my heart from your clutches.

Hey, I was on vacation, wanted to have some fun. So I joined my father-in-law and brother-in-law for 18 holes at this little nine-holer just west of Branson on Friday. Teed off before 8 a.m. My first shot set the tone – a severe hook that was headed into the next county (argh!) and then caroms off a tree back into the fairway (sweet joy!).

By the turn, the pattern was clear. The seventh hole, a par-5, was typical. I killed the drive – held my pose on the follow-through, savoring it – and had a five-foot putt for par. I three-jacked it. Next hole, four-footer for par … choke. That's the closest I got to par all day. As for my chipping, I couldn't have pitched it into the ocean at high tide.

My final score is irrelevant, except for the fact that it was about what I used to shoot. (I do not care to divulge it here.) I lost only two balls and took just one mulligan. I hit just enough good shots, and made a couple of really good putts, to make me want more. I have neither the time nor the money to take it up again, so hopefully the ache to play will fade like my father-in-law's 1-wood.

Problem is, we only actually played 17 holes, due to time constraints. It was an incomplete experience. I need to finish what I started. Then, I swear, that's it. Seriously.

Then again, golf likes to keep giving me mulligans, and I'm a sucker for it every time.

Today's Redneck Thought: "Golf is a good walk spoiled." – Mark Twain

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Redneck and His ($400) iPhone; or, Crap!

Remember this blog post? Yeah, well, I've got more proof that rednecks just shouldn't own nice things.

So we're on vacation in Branson, Mo., which is like Disney World, the Grand Old Opry and a county fair all rolled into one. Good clean family fun. Only, Sunday pretty much blew chunks. First, one of my contact lenses mysteriously disappears – more on that later – and then later on I go swimming … with my iPhone. My $400 iPhone (first generation).

See, I'd put my trunks on that morning and stuck my ($400) iPhone in one of the pockets. At the time I thought to myself, "Boy, sure would stink if I was dumb enough to forget this ($400) iPhone was in here and went swimming." Then, after a couple of times down the tube slide and 10 or 15 minutes frolicking with my son in the pool, I was talking with my wife's grandfather when I suddenly realized that I had a waterlogged ($400) iPhone in my trunks. "You've got to be kidding me!" I yelled, no doubt confusing my grandpa-in-law as I dashed off to examine it.

All efforts to revive the ($400) iPhone have failed. There will be a memorial service some time next week. I hope they can recover all my phone numbers and notes and other stuff I can't live without. Otherwise, somebody better hide my belts. On the upside, looks like I'll be getting one of the new (cheaper) iPhones, which come out Friday. I obviously haven't learned my lesson.

As for the contact lens fiasco, I was supposed to have a replacement shipped by Tuesday, but the geniuses at 1-800-CONTACTS couldn't figure out how to make my debit card go through. So it's either A) wear one contact and go around squinty-eyed, or B) wear my smashed-up glasses that I sat on a few weeks ago.

They were nice glasses, too, before I got a hold of them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Page 2:Lakers & Haters; LeBron & Shaq; Fans & Drugs

People like to say it's "easy" to cheer for a team like the Lakers, because they win all the time. Easy? Hardly.

First, I've got to put up with people calling me a bandwagon fan. I started pulling for L.A. when I was little, probably because they had Magic and Kareem and Rambis, the whole Showtime thing. It's not like I had a team nearby to root for. The Hawks? Yikes.

Worse than bandwagon fans are the bandwagon haters – those who pull against the Lakers simply because they win so much. There's no logic behind the hatred (is there ever?). I guess it's a compliment, like when opposing fans chant "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!" The Celtics don't get their own hate chant, which is surprising considering how many titles they've won.

More recently, people hate the Lakers because of Kobe Bryant. And most of that dislike is a product of that incident in Denver. Frankly, I've gotten to the point where I don't base my rooting interests on the personal misdeeds of athletes. If I did, I'd have nobody to cheer for.

With all that said: Go Lakers.

• How about Southern Miss reaching the College World Series? I know, it's college baseball, so most people are like, So what? This is like George Mason reaching the Final Four, the Arizona Cardinals almost winning the Super Bowl, Sarah Jessica Parker convincing millions that she's sexy. USM to Omaha – just shouldn't have happened.

• Speaking of things that shouldn't happen: Shaquille O'Neal to the Cavaliers? Really? So instead of trying to make the frontcourt younger and tougher, the Cavs have decided to make it older and overrated? The Knicks are rejoicing.

• The Rockies have won 11 straight, which makes me feel not quite so bad that they swept a four-game series from the Cardinals recently. This after they fired manager Clint Hurdle, who led them to the NL pennant just two seasons ago. Yeah, dude forgot how to manage. Those owners are so baseball savvy.

Quick hitters:

Manny Ramirez, despite serving a 50-game suspension for a failed drug test, was in the running for an All-Star Game selection. Looks now like he won't be voted in, but it raises the question: Should they start drug-testing the fans?

• The Penguins beat the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals in what was an amazing series, I'm told. After losing Game 5 by a 5-0 count, the Pens were dead in the water, so I've heard. With this victory – which avenged last year's Finals loss to the Wings – Pittsburgh's Sid "The Kid" Crosby now sits atop the NHL, a step above Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who apparently might be a slightly better player, I read somewhere. Believe me – or at least the people who told me – this was a historic deal.

• That last item wasn't very quick, was it?

Roger Federer finally won the French Open.*

*–But he didn't have to face Rafael Nadal

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Man and His Vacation; or, Low-Falutin' Holiday

I'm a simple man. I don't need much to make me content. For instance, right now I'm sitting on the couch with a Corona watching some baseball – in a condo in Branson, Mo., which means I'm miles away from my daily worries.

For me, this qualifies as a high-falutin' holiday. If my father-in-law were not kind enough to foot most of the bill, I'd have to settle for something less falutin', but that'd be OK. I don't need a yacht or a private beach or a masseuse. Those would be great, but I don't require much.

All these celebrities, and other super-rich folks, like those things. That's cool. This resort I'm at is pretty nice, though: three pools, a big ol' lake, a small basketball court, free wi-fi, a playground for the kids. That's plenty.

My wife makes an annual trip with her mom and sisters to exotic destinations like Puerto Vallarta and Jamaica. Really nice resorts with lots of perks and free drinks and whatnot. I've never even been out of the country.

Heck, don't know what I'd do in that kind of setting. Probably just find a couch, a Corona and a baseball game. And maybe a massage.

Today's Redneck Thought: "I took everybody in my family to Hawaii, 13 people, thinking this would be the vacation of  a lifetime. It ended up being, 'The Clampetts Go to Maui.'" – Jeff Foxworthy

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lift the Shades; Bluegrass Blues; Junior Underachievement

Page 2 time again, even though I oughta be in bed.

• During Wednesday night's Nuggets-Lakers playoff game, ESPN's cameras did the obligatory star shots – Jack Nicholson, Hugh Hefner, Zac Efron. Speaking of Mr. Efron, the 20-something high schooler was looking dapper in his pretentious casual dress and $300 sunglasses. That's right, sunglasses. Guess it was so bright with all those stars in the house.

People wear shades indoors for only two reasons: 1) Their eyes are extra sensitive to light, or 2) they're trying way too hard to be cool. Efron falls in the latter category, as I suspect most people do. Seriously, I once saw a guy eating in Old Country Buffet with his '90s-style Oakley wraparounds firmly planted on his shnozz. Dude, you're eating at Old Country Buffet. So was I, but at least I took my shades off. The fluorescent lights aren't that bright.

It should be noted that Donald Sutherland wears those huge grandma sunglasses to Laker games, but he's weird anyway, and he's old, so he gets a pass.

• Been a tough week for the University of Kentucky. A tough Wednesday, in fact: former basketball coach Billy Gillispie sued the school, which has since countersued; new coach John Calipari's old team, Memphis, is in hot water with the NCAA (which 167.22 million people predicted would happen); and blue chip recruit John Wall pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor breaking and entering charge. All this after three players left the team, which will conveniently help the Wildcats stay within the scholarship limit.

Ah, college sports, that pure respite from the corruption and cynicism of the real world. Pass the Kool-Aid.

• Poor Dale Earnhardt Jr. is struggling, which means it must be Tony Eury Jr.'s fault. Earnhardt's crew chief – and cousin – was let go by Hendrick Motorsports on Thursday, marking the second time the two have split up. Surely this is what Junior needs to become a NASCAR champion. First it was his control-freak step-mother and the second-rate resources at DEI holding him back; now it's his crew chief. Fact is, Junior's racing for the best team in NASCAR, and he's still stinking it up. Yeah, maybe it's you, Dale.

Quick hitters:

• It mystifies me that a spelling bee warrants coverage by the sports media. Some girl whose last name I can't even spell won it this year. Kudos to the always hilarious D.J. Gallo for trying to make it sportsy. Don't get me started on dog shows.

• Hey, Fran Tarkenton, welcome back to the spotlight. Good to see folks still can't pin you down.

• By the way, the Red Wings and Penguins are playing in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals – for the second straight year. That's be really fascinating if I gave a crap about hockey.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cubs' Banks (Not Ernie); Sox Peav-ed; Satan on Ice

The Page 2 column is back. You probably have no idea what I'm talking about, so a quick review: My first few years at the Daily Journal, I wrote a freakin' hilarious column about the national and international sports scene. I now have to focus my efforts on covering the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

But, I've had an itch to revive the column, and this is a good place for it. Perhaps it doesn't quite fit with my blog's theme, but it's my blog, dangit. Deal with it. On with the show.

• A potential buyer for the Chicago Cubs has lined up three banks to finance the deal. Gotta make you feel secure, Cubbie fans. Maybe your team will get some sort of government bailout, in the form of a bye into the World Series. Not that it would help. By the way, Cardinals rule, suckas.

• The Twins dropped 20 runs on the White Sox on Thursday night, just hours after San Diego ace Jake Peavy turned down a trade to the South side. It was such a bad day, Ozzie Guillen actually ran out of curse words. Pretty sad. He ended the postgame press conference by saying, "Just a flippin' crappy day, dangit. Kiss my buttocks, Peavy."

• You seen these Kobe/LeBron muppet ads? Pretty funny. There was also a Kobe/LeBron documentary that aired on ESPN on Thursday (I missed it). The Lakers and Cavaliers are still in the playoffs, and many experts expect them to meet in the NBA Finals. All this Kobe/LeBron hype makes me wish I was one of those loser NBA conspiracy theorists, because this would provide tons of ammo. Truth is, these are the two best players in the game, they're the past two MVP winners, and they're both Nike guys. And after watching Nuggets-Lakers Game 2, the refs are definitely not trying to help Kobe and L.A.

• I accidentally caught part of a hockey highlight Thursday night and noticed Satan fighting. Oh, that's Miroslav Satan, of the Penguins, and it's pronounced "Shu-TAHN." (Note his ID number in the url; coincidence?) Dude's gotta officially change the pronunciation, because you just don't cross-check Satan.

Quick hitters:

• Worst opening pitch … ever. He throws like my (lovely, beautiful, sweet, talented) wife.

Michael Vick is finally out of Leavenworth. Had a tough 19 months there, but thankfully he retained his ability to avoid being sacked, if you know what I mean.

• Poor, misunderstood Ryan Leaf is at it again, facing drug and burglary charges. Worth noting: Unlike Vick, Leaf was not an elusive quarterback. Just sayin'.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Ultimate Mullet; or, A Piece of Art

While cruising the Wal-Mart parking lot today – these days I do that while waiting for my wife, not as a Friday night social activity – I saw a mullet. Yes, I know, that's like saying I saw a raving drunk at a Kennedy family reunion. But this was no ordinary mullet. It almost defies description, but I'll try.

It was jet black, wavy and wide, and reached down at least a couple inches below his collar. It was so thick and greasy, I think it could have deflected hollow-point bullets. It almost looked fake, except that its owner was thinning just a bit on top. He was a homely man with a white-specked beard. He must've been coloring that mullet with motor oil. Kind of reminded me of the old Elvis' do.

I wish I had taken out my phone and snapped a picture to share with y'all, because this was easily the most spectacular mullet I've ever seen. When I saw it, I told my kids, "That's the most spectacular mullet I've ever seen." They asked me to turn up the radio. Kids just don't appreciate art these days. And this was redneck art at its finest, a thing of beauty. I hope I see this fella again. Maybe I'll pose for a picture – with the mullet. And maybe he'll let me touch it. OK, that'd be a little weird. But this piece of work was like its own entity, and the man was no more than a host.

That mullet puts to shame the one I tried to grow in ninth grade. It was weak, and I now understand why it took me so long to talk my mom into letting me grow it out. And after seeing this guy's mullet today, I know now I was trying to reach an impossibly high standard.

Today's Redneck Thought: "Business up front, party in the rear." – Classic description of the mullet

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Piece of Meat; or, The New Sexyburger

I could be wrong here, but I don't think food is supposed to be sexy. I've seen it dressed up or arranged in an artistic manner by those big fancy chefs, but I've never found anything seductive about grilled salmon or cauliflower (especially not cauliflower). Apparently Hardee's thinks otherwise.

The burger chain has a (short) history of airing racy ads – like the infamous Patty Melts spot – clearly aimed at playing on the raging hormones of males aged 13-106. (Yeah, once you hit 107, the fire's gone.) The latest Hardee's ad features another saucy, cleavage-bearing vixen chowing down on a Western Bacon Thickburger. I have two problems with this ad: A) It's oversexed, and B) it's false advertising. People who look like her do not eat Thickburgers. If she did, she would not be allowed to wear that dress.

Sure, it's a fantasy combination for many guys – a hot burger and a hot chick – and I guess that sells. But hamburgers are not sexy. Sure, they're tasty, but they're also greasy, fattening and did I mention, NOT SEXY! They're food. They come from cows. You cook 'em, eat 'em, and – pardon my French – crap 'em out. Fully digested ground round – not sexy.

Today's (Somewhat Related) Redneck Thought: "I'm not certain in which book it appears, but I know that somewhere in the Bible it says, 'Thou shalt not put mushrooms on no cheeseburger.'" – Lewis Grizzard

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fancy Hay Hauler; or, Leaving Our Mark

Boy, we rednecks sure know how to put our stamp on even the nicest things, don't we? I was reminded of this earlier today when my father, who used to run amok in Lafayette County, Miss., was trying to figure out how to clean the hay out of the trunk of his Mercedes.

Granted, it's an '85 diesel beast, goes 0-60 in 3.5 days. And it has large trunk capacity, for your luggage, camping gear or dog house insulation. Nevertheless, when the fine German engineers slapped this one on the bumper and saw it off the assembly line, I'm pretty sure they were expecting their vehicle to find a more distinguished role, especially late in life.

That's the thing about my dad, though: He's practical. He didn't buy it just because it's a Benz – he's not into labels – but because he got a good deal on a reliable car (he also once owned an '82 Benz diesel). He has a truck, so I'm not sure why he put the hay in the Mercedes, but I'm sure it was done for the sake of convenience.

My father is not alone in putting his redneck mark on otherwise elegant items. There are people like me, for example, who download fart apps to their iPhone. (Entertains the kids for hours.) And there are people, usually teenagers, who purposely rip holes in their $80 designer jeans. And then there are those who mock the geniuses behind Microsoft. At least we didn't make Jeff Foxworthy a prophet during the 1996 Olympics.

Fancy things and rednecks just don't mix. I recall accidentally breaking a commemorative plate of some sort that was hanging above our kitchen doorway, and my mom all but said, "We just can't have nice things!" No, no we can't, because we don't know what to do with them. I'm shocked my iPhone has survived a year-plus – I did try to leave it on the ground next to a football practice field – but I'm sure it will eventually wind up in a discarded bag of pork rinds. An unbefitting fate, indeed, but not unexpected.

Today's Redneck Thought: "Between New York and LA, there's 200 million people that aren't hip, and they don't want to be hip." – Jeff Foxworthy

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thinking Small; or, My Kind of Place

This is going to be kind of stream of consciousness thing, but I just had to post. As I type, I'm sitting on a bench outside the Union County Courthouse in New Albany, just before sunset. Just soaking in the small town atmosphere, something that can get lost even in a place like Tupelo (a Certified Retirement Community, yawn). This places is pretty much dead, except for a few cars coming through, a sparsely populated coffee shop, and the Fred's (which is where I walked to get the Mountain Dew I'm now drinking). A soft breeze is cooling me.

Shoot, if this soda bottle were glass, I might feel like I was back in the '50s or something. And if I wasn't getting wi-fi on a MacBook.

Small towns tend to get a bad name, even from those who live there. They can't wait to leave, and they talk about people getting "sucked" back into it when they try to. Always something bigger and better out there, I suppose. Having been around a few years – 33 is enough for me to have a well-informed opinion on this – I might have to disagree on that one. Maybe it's because small towns fit my personality – they're quiet, laid-back, and don't seek attention, but they're dang proud of what they are and what they stand for.

I'm staring at a war memorial, the inscription of which reads, "In memory of those who gave their lives to safeguard the principles of justice, freedom and democracy." And listed on both sides are the names of those who left this little town behind and died on some foreign battlefield, from World Wars I & II to Korea to Vietnam. I'm sure big cities have such memorials, but except for The Wall, who pays them much attention? Can't help but notice this one, which reminds folks of the past, one of many things that distinguishes small towns from big cities. Another is the intimacy of the place – I didn't see many people waving at each other in downtown New York when I was there last summer.

Big cities and towns are fine, and necessary. I've got nothing against them or against those who live there and like living there. But I'll take this right here any day: An evening whose silence is broken only by the small sounds of a small town and the whispers of its past.

Today's Redneck Thought: "Everybody dies famous in a small town." – Miranda Lambert

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Accent on Intellect; or, I Ain't Dumb

Jeff Foxworthy has this bit in one of his old routines where he laments how the Southern accent doesn't jive with, say, brain surgery. "I used to say that whenever people heard my Southern accent, they always wanted to deduct 100 IQ points," he said. Indeed, Jeff, indeed.

The Southern accent apparently makes a person sound uneducated and/or dumb. It's a persistent stereotype, and it's part of the reason, I'm sure, that modern-day radio and TV announcers tend to have cookie-cutter voices that make you wonder if they're from anywhere at all. It ticks me off. (And how scary is this story?)

We've got our share of dim bulbs, but the South has produced some pretty sharp folks. I could produce a long, mind-numbing list, but I won't. Instead, I'll provide a handful of quotes – courtesy – that illustrate just how insightful and intellectual we can be. To wit:

• "A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know where it is today." – Robert E. Lee

• "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." – Mark Twain

• "People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for." – Harper Lee

• "There is as much dignity in plowing a field as in writing a poem." – Booker T. Washington

And in a moment of self-indulgence, I'll offer a couple of my own sayings, which I'm sure is just a rephrasing of others' wisdom (they always enter my brain after I've observed something):

• "A measured risk isn't much of a risk at all."

• "You can never see the devil coming when you're walking in the dark."

I think part of the problem is that SoutherneFont sizers are dang funny. We mistakenly tend to separate sense of humor and intelligence – the unsmiling Ivy League professor vs. the goofy-grinning, overall-wearing redneck. But the two can co-exist. In fact, the best humor is informed by a sharp mind and observant eye. Foxworthy's a perfect example, as is the late great Lewis Grizzard. The thing is, the Southern accent lends itself to slow talking, which a fast-talking Yankee will equate with a slow mind. Couldn't be less true. Doris Betts put it perfectly: "If you are going to be underestimated by people who speak more rapidly, the temptation is to speak slowly and strategically and outwit them."

So to Hollywood, ignorant Yankees and anyone else this pertains to: Stop making every dumb character in movies and TV shows have a (bad) Southern drawl. Stop calling us "stupid rednecks/hillbillies" whenever you don't agree with our political or social views. Stop mocking country music without first trying to understand its subtle complexity and its tangled roots.

Because chances are, we're smarter than you.

Today's Redneck Thought: "The fear of God makes heroes, the fear of man makes cowards." – Sgt. Alvin C. York, a very smart Tennessean

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What's In a Word Up? or, The (Grammatical) Wackness

Being a Grammar Nazi, I'm highly critical of people abusing and manipulating the English language, or just being ignorant of the basics. Peepel who right leik this realy anoy me espeshully when they dont puncuate properly. What differance does it make? A lot, because one's command of the English language reflects on their intelligence.

However, I feel there is an equal but less disparaged linguistic offense being perpetrated: White people using urban slang. It's pretty wack, yo. Sometimes it can be funny, but usually, it just makes you cringe (this examines the difference). Like the time this elderly lady on a local department store's informercial said, "And just look all this bling-bling." Who let that woman watch "Yo! MTV Raps"?

That's what we white folks do, though. In our pathetically desperate attempts to be crunk – augmented, no doubt, by some lingering racial guilt – we hijack all urban terminology that we think will somehow disguise our intrinsic dorkiness. Oh, how often we go way too far. Fo shizzle, homeskillet, we honkies can be off the hook (or is that a good thing?). Not only do we hijack the words, we run them into the ground and keep using them years after their crunk rating has diminished (has crunk's crunk rating diminished yet?). This is similar to what we do with certain types of music once popular among black people.

I'm all for cultural understanding, but we can appreciate the creative lexicon of others without, you know, using it. Some of us – TobyMac, Eminem, Weird Al – can pull it off. I choose to embrace my white awkardness, because that's who I am. Just keepin' it real, yo.

Today's Redneck Thought: "Word to your mother." Translated: "How's your mom 'n them?"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Noisy Minority; or, Idiot Fans

There are few things about my job that I hate, but near the top of the list would be idiot fans. I've got some behind me as I type this (at the NCAA tournament in Portland, Ore.). "Call the game fair!" one lady just yelled in a grating tone. Yeah, lady, they're being paid by the other team. Conspiracy! Oh, wait, the other fans are saying the same thing, though.

I'm continually amazed at the general stupidity of some fans. I'm assuming it's only the loud ones that are stupid, because smart people tend to keep quiet. The total lack of knowledge of the sport these people are watching astounds me. They don't know a moving screen from a moving van. And of course, only the most obvious of calls – and sometimes those – aren't derided as the greatest of injustices. How could you, ref? You might as well have blown up an orphanage.

The problem, besides lacking a basic knowledge of the rules, is blind loyalty. I mean, Hitler didn't have followers this deluded. (Bad analogy perhaps, but you get my point.) The funny part is that the refs usually can't hear the fans, and if they could, so what? What isn't funny is that when a player, say, takes a charge, the knucklehead fans don't applaud the player's defensive effort. No, they'll say, "About time, ref! Been doing it all game!"

I feel a kinship with the officials. Like me, their job is to be objective and impartial. And like me, they often are showered with laughable accusations of favoritism or incompetence. Sorry, we're not the idiots.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Portland Hospitality; or, Big City Love

I am in Portland, Ore., this week to cover the first round of the NCAA tournament, and this fine city reinforces what I've learned about big cities: They're not all bad.

I was, quite frankly, stunned by the friendliness of Chicagoans when my family visited the Windy City in 2006. Nary a grumble was heard when I loaded our huge four-wheel drive baby stroller on the bus. In fact, our kids received smiles and Rachel and I received help in finding places. After we watched the Cubs beat the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, a Cubs fan told me, "Good luck in the playoffs." (A prophet, that man.) It's a cold place, Chicago, but it has not frozen the residents' hearts. My sister-in-law, who lives there, can verify this.

I went to New York over the summer, and it lived down to expectations. And I've figured it out: New York has spoiled it for all the other big cities. I couldn't walk five feet without hearing someone cursing – it's just a part of the casual lexicon up there – and most everyone walked around with ears plugged and eyes looking straight ahead. Being an expert on the finer points of Southern hospitality, I was greatly offended many times over. And NYC casts such a long shadow over our culture, its characteristics become assigned, in the mind of Southerners anyway, to all metropolitan areas.

So even though I'd heard how nice and friendly a city it was, I still wasn't sure what to expect of Portland. I hadn't even left the airport last night before a casually dressed Arab fellow helped me figure out how to buy a ticket for the Light Rail. As I type this, I haven't even been here 24 hours, but I've already met a couple of nice shuttle bus drivers and have had no reason not to tip generously.

Portland is indeed a beautiful city. Not that I'd want to live here, mind you. Much as I like nice people, the drawback of a big city is this: There's too many of them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spoiled Rotten; or, Stupid Cell Phone!

This is a lazy blog, nothing more than a YouTube link. But Louis CK says it so much better than I ever could. We're basically a bunch of spoiled losers, aren't we?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Time Marches On; or, The Persistent Pendulum

It has been 17 days since my last blog post. Unacceptable, I know. But trying to keep up with time is like trying to catch a butterfly in your bare hand. Reminds me of a line from a poem I once wrote (unpublished, of course): "As I chase the elusive days/The years slip unseen out the back door."

I know I've written on this topic before, but it never ceases to astound me how elusive time can be. I always feel behind, and when I do get a free moment, it's not when I need it. It's usually when I'm waiting on a coach or someone to call me so I can finish a story, dangit.

Time used to move more slowly around here, or so I'm told. Now it's gotten so where I feel like if I'm not moving, then I'm not being productive. It was Andrew Jackson who said, "Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go on." That's a two-fold lesson: Don't act without thinking, but don't think without acting. Hey, I think I like my version better. Anyway, I've been doing too much of the former – plowing on without taking time to think things through and educate myself.

Today at work, I actually had a rare chance to slow down and read through a basketball periodical I receive each month. Nothing in it related directly to the Mississippi State beat, but I think it was beneficial just to read some good writing and broaden my understanding of the basketball world outside my area of intense focus. It's easy to get wrapped up in one's own little world and forget that it exists in the context of a much larger one. Then you look up and realize you've missed a lot.

Like Tracy Lawrence sang, "Time marches on." I hope to learn how to keep up without having to march double-time.

Today's Redneck Thought: "The graveyard's full of folks that didn't have time to die." – Tim McGraw, "Nothin' to Die For"

Saturday, January 24, 2009

His Name is Mudd; or, The Great Divide

Someone needs to stand up for Mark Mudd, a Kentucky redneck who might not be a great singer, but he's no psychopath, either. Were you to believe the idiot American Idol judges, though, you might think otherwise.

Mudd's Idol audition was televised Wednesday night. It got off to an inauspicious start when Simon Cowell tried to be funny by asking Mudd if the cell phone – with a plainly visible University of Kentucky cover on it – was a gun. I imagine Simon thought Mudd had a large weapons cache back at his shanty. (Note my sarcasm.) Anyway, after Mudd muddled his way through part of a George Jones tune, and after the judges were done mocking him, Mudd moseyed toward the door and said, "Y'all take care and … be careful." Then Paula Abdul says, "Be careful?" To which Mudd replied, "Just be careful in whatever you do." Then Simon chimed in, "That was a threat." Paula agreed. Mudd then tried, vainly, to explain what he meant. Paula said, "You don't say that to people. That's just not a normal thing to say."

Uh, yeah it is, Paula. Forget where you were? Kentucky? Actually, "Be careful" is a common parting expression in the South. Mudd was just wishing them safety in their future travels and endeavors. He was being friendly – graceful I'd say, considering the mean-spirited comments he'd just endured. I say "Be careful" all the time, but I've never had anyone take it as a threat. Maybe because I've never uttered it to a clueless Yankee or an acerbic Brit.

You wonder why Southerners tend to have an inferiority complex? Our normal, everyday behavior is looked upon condescendingly by a group of people who think they're smarter, wittier and more sophisticated than us. And even if they are, that doesn't make them better than us. I'll admit, Mark Mudd looks and talks like a backwoods hick, but guess what? Nothing wrong with that. I could say something about Simon's haircut, but I won't, and his hair is his business.

By the way, fellow judges Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson didn't stand up for Mudd. So to all four of them, I say, study a dialect before you deride those who speak it. To my fellow redneck Mark Mudd: Take care, and be careful.

Today's Redneck Thought: "Be careful." – Countless Southerners

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Misdirection; or, All En-Compassing Ignorance

Being a dude, and being a dude who's grown up in the small-town South, I was born with an innate sense of direction. Blindfold me, spin me around 10 times, drop me off 20 miles east of nowhere, and I can find my way home in without so much as a compass. The compass is in my head!

Yeah, really. I just prefer taking the scenic route sometimes. Through the scary parts of places like Cincinnati and Baton Rouge. Hmm.

OK, truth is, my sense of direction is equal to that of a drunken chipmunk. For instance, on my way back from the basketball arena here in Baton Rouge to my hotel, I turned a five-minute drive into 20 minutes. And that was with the GPS on my iPhone. Too … many … turns!

Yes, I'm easily confused, not to mention a habitual second-guesser. Maps are like a foreign language to me – can't read 'em. And forget trying to get myself unlost by using my inner compass. Apparently, that piece of equipment got broke during one of my youthful bike-riding stunts.

A road trip for me is not complete if I haven't gotten lost at least once. Not just a little lost, we're talking spectacularly lost. We're talking a couple of counties over lost. Like when I was in Cincinnati trying to find the justice center, and instead wound up west of town in Scaryville, Ohio. Or when coming back from Tuscaloosa a few years ago and winding back up in Alabama.

I used to think I could get myself around, but no, I can't. I still get lost in Tupelo. Well, not get lost so much as taking wrong turns – often. I still get easily misplaced on the east side of town.

Better get to bed. Coming back home tomorrow, assuming I can find my way from the hotel to the highway just outside my window. No guarantees.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pansification; or, Chuck Norris and Tutus

So I'm driving toward Fayetteville, Ark., on I-40 the other day, when I saw something that made both my eyes and my heart hurt. Heading the opposite direction was a Hummer – you know, king of the offroad, toughest vehicle in existence, could tow a tank up Mt. Everest – and it was painted … pink. Bright pink. I'm not a cussin' man, but boy I came close.

Either somebody at Mary Kay had a really bad idea, or somebody else had a really bad idea. I really wish I could've seen who was driving it, though I figure it was some 16-year-old rich girl. A pink Hummer. Wow. That's like putting Chuck Norris in a tutu. Blasphemy. That poor truck will never see a speck of mud. And this was in Arkansas, not New Jersey.

How do things like this happen? What self-respecting automaker would let something so atrocious come off its assembly line? I fear this is symptomatic of a larger problem: The pansification of our culture. (Pretty sure I made that word up, but journalists are allowed that license.)

Hey, I know macho is en vogue again in some circles, sometimes at annoying levels (see: any male deodorant/body spray commercial). But some things really shouldn't be neutered. A Hummer is one of them. Pink?! Shoot, I bet it had a heated steering wheel and no mud flaps.

A lot of things once considered sacred have become pansified: Hamburgers (veggie burgers; yech), coffee (mochas, lattes, etc.; but of course, I'm addicted to them), men's clothing (I will not wear capris, thank you), Mark McGwire (The Amazing Shrinking Slugger!). It's all bad.

If I ever see that Hummer again, I'm going to turn around and chase it. Run it into a ditch and laugh as the driver tries to figure out where the four-wheel drive button is located.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

10 Things Not to Do; or, Hang Up Your Skates

I went ice skating yesterday. Second time I've done so. We're in St. Louis visiting the in-laws, see, and so apparently this is a new annual tradition, to head out to Queeny Park and strap on the blades. Good times, in theory.

Actually, I did have fun, despite dragging my whining son around the rink, twice. But I think he knows something that I should've realized sooner – redneck guys aren't meant to ice skate. No, we're meant to make fun of those who do, except during the Olympics, when all that matters is kicking some foreign tail, even if it's done by dudes wearing sequins. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Anyway, that got me thinking about the 10 things that redneck guys just should not do, ever, even at gunpoint. So here they are, starting with …:

Ice skate: I only fell once yesterday – on my wallet, thank goodness – but I must've looked like a drunk baby out there.
Drive a luxury car: I took my father-in-law's new BMW for a spin yesterday, too. Very nice, but I kind of felt like a pig wearing a ballgown. Know what I mean?
Dance: Don't do it. Ever. No matter how drunk you get. Line dancing? Yikes.
Use urban slang: "You dis me agee-yin, homeskeelit, and Ah'll dot you in yo' ahball." Please, no. Just punch the offending party.
Drink wine or champagne: I've tried both, and maybe my palette isn't sophisticated enough, but it seems the redneck's tongue is suited for nothing fancier than domestic beer. And moonshine (which I have not tried; almost ashamed to admit that).
Be a doctor: Not that rednecks aren't smart enough to be doctors, but like Jeff Foxworthy says, do you really want a guy like this doing your lobotomy?
Be a lawyer: Because they just don't know when to stop.
Shop for groceries: Unless your wife and kids don't mind living off Pop-Tarts, Frito sandwiches and Hungry Man frozen dinners.
Cook breakfast: Like the Hardee's commercial says, "Guys don't bake." Grits from a box is about as much as I'll chance.
Have nice things: I remember when I was a teenager fooling around and breaking one of my mom's commemorative plates that hung on the wall. She was most upset. Expensive and/or rare items do not mix well with rednecks. I'm waiting for my iPhone to spontaneously combust any day now.

Please, feel free to add your own thoughts on this subject.