Audience Participation Friday: Scouts’ Honor



A friend of mine spent a little time in jail in Carrollton, Georgia. By “a little time” I mean however long it took for his momma to come pick him up. (He had been driving on an expired license, in case you were wondering.) It was a short stint, but he was in jail long enough to witness a remarkable scene. He was in a holding cell with a young man named Russell, who was sobering up after his night of roistering had been interrupted by the police. It was just the two of them until a third criminal was brought to the cell shouting and scuffling. “I aint going back to New Mexico!” he was saying. “Don’t make me go back to New Mexico!”
They had picked him up on a parole violation. He wasn’t supposed to leave the state of New Mexico, but there he was, in Carrollton, Georgia. The officer slammed the iron door behind him, and the cell seemed very crowded all of a sudden. My friend and Russell stared at the wild-eyed probation violator. He stared back, eyeing first one, then the other of his cellmates. Then the parolee got a peculiar look as he focused on Russell. He lifted a finger and pointed at him. “Say, you’re from Whitesburg, aint you?”

“Yeah,” Russell said warily. “I’m from Whitesburg.”

“I know you,” the parolee said. “You was in my boy scout troop! I’m Billy Womack.”

Recognition dawned on Russell’s face. “Your dad was the scoutmaster, wasn’t he?”

It was a happy reunion those two had in the Carroll County jail. When my friend’s mother arrived, the former boy scouts were still reminiscing on better times.


We have a fiction-writing assignment for Audience Participation Friday this week. Write a scene in which you envision a pack meeting attended by young Russell and Billy. This should be good.

In Which I Talk To Canadian Radio Listeners

Last week I was the guest on “Wednesday Bookmark,” a drive-time book discussion on Ottowa’s CHRI Family Radio station. Host Care Stevens was very gracious and informed, though she was under the impression that I had a thick accent. If you’re so inclined, you can listen by clicking the link below. All the “um’s” and “er’s” and pauses you hear from me were apparently added in later. As I remember it, I was perfectly articulate.

BONUS VIDEO: I also was on the WSMV’s Better Nashville midday program earlier this week. Click here to see me wear tweed and sit next to a guy in a bowtie–the esteemed Ken Cheeseman, headmaster of St. Paul Christian Academy.

Audience Participation Friday: Domestic Wildlife

Friends, readers–I am thankful for Audience Participation Fridays. Keeping up with a blog is hard work, and as you may have noticed, I haven’t exactly been up to the challenge this week. On Fridays, however, it becomes your problem rather than mine. A friend from high school has a “critter control” company that catches wild animals that end up in people’s houses. I noticed on Facebook today that he had gotten five raccoons out of one house. And it got me to thinking…”There’s an animal in the house!” is a whole subgenre of the amusing anecdote genre.
I’m sure you have a story of a time a wild animal got into your house or the house of somebody you love. Why don’t you take a moment and share it?

Audience Participation Friday: Celebrity Sightings

What makes a good celebrity sighting? One key ingredient, of course, is the celebrity. But almost as important is the setting. Bruce Springsteen at the next gas pump is a celebrity sighting. Bruce Springsteen at Philips Arena is a concert. Ideally, there’s cognitive dissonance in a celebrity sighting. Like the time my cousin Brett saw Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair–mortal enemies in the rassling ring–driving down the interstate in a convertible Cadillac, apparently having a big old time. The key dissonance, of course, is the simple sight of a person who supposedly exists in  some other plane just walking around doing regular stuff. The fabulous and the mundane mashed up against one another. That’s what celebrity sightings are all about.

For Audience Participation Friday, we’d like to hear about your celebrity sightings. Maybe you’ve kissed Willie Nelson. Maybe you’ve been in the same restaurant as Indiana Jones. Do tell. I’ll prime the pump…

  • This past Christmas Eve I stood behind Ricky Skaggs in the cash register line at Williams Sonoma. It made me feel good to know that no less a personage than Ricky Skaggs was as bad a procrastinator as I was.
  • Apparently Trinity from The Matrix brushed against me on a crowded sidewalk. I didn’t know it was her, but the person I was with insisted it was. I don’t know if this counts as a “sighting” since I didn’t see her.
  • I have elsewhere described the time Bela Fleck played the banjo on an airport shuttle bus I had the pleasure of riding.
  • I saw Ben Folds on a hiking trail. Even out in there amongst nature’s beauties, he had the same hipster scowl he wears in all his music videos. I appreciated that.
  • The very same day I saw Ben Folds, I also saw Nicole Kidman twice in two different places. It’s bad enough to be stalked, but to be stalked by the rich and famous is a little frightening.
  • Oh, I almost forgot. I ran into Angelina Jolie at the Air and Space Museum gift shop. At first I thought she was just a really pretty lady with an adopted Asian baby, but I noticed there was a palpable buzz trailing behind her as she went from aisle to aisle, and it dawned on me who she was.

Well, that ought to get you started. Tell us about your brushes with greatness.

Nashville Living: The Tour Bus



Some friends of ours bought a house on the cul-de-sac where Tim McGraw and Faith Hill used to live. Every day, a couple of times a day, a tour bus would lurch up the hill, idle in front of our friends’ house for a couple of minutes, then turn around and bump back down the hill. One reason a person buys a house in a cul-de-sac, of course, is to enjoy a little quiet and privacy. So one day our friend flagged down the tour bus as it came up the hill. “Don’t you realize that this isn’t Tim and Faith’s house anymore?” he asked the tour guide.
“Of course we realize it,” the tour guide said. “But their new house is too far out in the country. It’s easier just to come to this one.”

Which brings up any number of questions, one of which is this: if Tim and Faith’s old house is almost as tourworthy as Tim and Faith’s current house, why not just show the paying customers a house that’s similar to Tim and Faith’s house? Maybe one that doesn’t require pulling up a hill or turning the bus around in a cul-de-sac. I should mention that the house in question, while fabulous, wasn’t more fabulous than the house owned by the surgeon next door or the house owned by the record producer next door to that. There are a hundred cul-de-sacs just like it in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Celebrity is surely a peculiar thing. On the radio the other day I heard about a survey in which middle schoolers were asked what they would like to be when they grow up. They had five choices to choose from:

  • CEO of a Fortune 500 company
  • Navy Seal
  • U.S. Senator
  • college president
  • “personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star.”

43% of the middle schoolers interviewed chose “personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star.” Mind you, they weren’t choosing to be the celebrity, only to carry the celebrity’s suitcase. The next-closest choice (college president) only garnered 24% of the vote. It’s a mystery, this desire to be close to celebrity. But in light of these survey results, perhaps it’s no shock that people are willing to pay good money to see Tim and Faith’s old house.

If you’re interested, you can read more about the middle school fame survey at Jake Halpern’s website. I’m warning you, though: it’s a little depressing.

Audience Participation Friday: Better Jokes

For Audience Participation Friday last week I solicited unfunny jokes, and you, the readership, rose to the occasion with some jokes that were thoroughly unamusing. Having suffered through that together, I thought it might be good to cleanse our palates, so to speak, with some jokes that are actually funny. So for this Audience Participation Friday the question is this: Heard any good jokes lately?
I’ll get things started with one of my favorites, which concerns a surly turtle on a picnic. Three turtles went on a picnic. Being turtles, it took them ten days to get from their house to the picnic site, which was out in the countryside. When they finally got to thei spot beside the river, they began to unpack the basket. They pulled out the sandwiches, the potato salad, the baked beans, the slaw, the apples, the root beer. That’s when they realized that they had left the bottle opener at home. Accusations flew; each turtle thought it was somebody else’s fault that they had left the bottle opener at home. At last, however, they decided that it didn’t much matter whose fault it was; they would draw straws to determine who would have to schlep back to the house for the bottle opener. The turtle who drew the short straw was furious. “It’s not my fault that we don’t have a bottle opener,” he said. Read More

Feechies of the Week: Catfish Noodlers

Chapter 15 of The Bark of the Bog Owl details a fishing trip in which Aidan and his feechie friends Doyno and Branko “grabble” catfish–which is to say, catch them with their hands. Not all readers realize that this is a real pastime among some of our more feechiefied friends and neighbors. It seems to be called “noodling” more often than “grabbling.” Here’s a movie of a couple of old boys who are gifted catfish noodlers. Perhaps the most feechiefied moment of the movie is when the cameraman zooms in on the bloodied forearm of the combatant and says “Show your mama.” Tres feechie.
Thanks to Joe Thacker for nominating our feechies of the week.

p.s. I just noticed that the header refers to our feechies of the week as rednecks. It’s not a word I use, and I would prefer that it not be on my blog. But these guys are so brilliant I would hate to deprive my readers of them. So scratch out ‘redneck’ and write in ‘feechie.’

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