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.