Sunday, September 25, 2011


-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. See what we mean at "On the Flop!" <-


25 SEP 11: In Conclusion....

You've probably heard the phrase, "All good things must come to an end." Today I apply that phrase to this blog -- although I realize some of you never have been really sure about how good this blog is.

After more than 11 total years of online humor writing, close to nine years of blogging and 2,727 posts, The Blog of Columbus officially ends today. For some people, I'm sure this will be disappointing -- but they should look on the bright side. Now Robert Schweiger and C.A. "Brother Love" Hardmon can branch out and set up blogs of their own.

Since LaughLine began for national subscribers in January 2000, I've dreamed of making a living doing comedy writing. But LaughLine died for lack of interest in 2002 -- and while this blog has about 1,000 visits a week, it simply hasn't brought in enough income to pay the bills. In fact, this year's blog income doesn't even cover one month of frozen rent.

(Before conspiracy theories start: only a few people paid me over the years to write this blog, in terms of donations or advertising. And absolutely no one is paying me to stop this blog. If someone had thought of that along the way.... well....)

What started in 2003 as a blog with humorous thoughts about Columbus grew into much more. I've marveled at what it's become, with a mix of satisfaction and frustration. It's humbling to have the mayor return your phone calls, get breaking news directly from public officials -- and even be offered tickets to a circus, real or political.

But the frustration admittedly has come from people who wanted to turn a humor blogger into something else. I never really wanted to become a puppet for people who want to reform towns. I also never planned to get on the "speed dial" of people who openly admitted to a history of mental illness. By sharing their "opinions," I sometimes wondered if they wanted to spread their conditions as well.

Long-time readers know I wrote this blog for several years while working part-time at a Columbus TV station. That station let me go in 2009, and I've been searching for new steady employment ever since. That opportunity finally has come, outside my chosen career of journalism. So now I'll hand out "scoops" to others, instead of spilling them myself.

(For now, I plan to continue my other blog. "On the Flop" was spun off, to be a mix of poker and ministry. But before you start rumors, I am NOT turning pro and moving to Biloxi.)

The thought occurred that I could continue to write this blog, perhaps on a reduced scale. But I don't think that would be fair to this new job opportunity, so I decided to give it my full time and attention. Besides, most doctors recommend getting more than five hours of sleep per night.

I step away believing this sort of "alternative journalism" project in Columbus will go on. I played a small role last year in developing Robbie Watson's River City Report, which appears ready to carry on some of the things I've done here. Sometimes I think she could use emoticons to make her jokes more obvious, but that's her choice....

The end of this blog probably will mean no more heady stuff, such as interviews with city managers and local celebrities. But it also will mean the end of late-night blog writing, which sometimes stretched until 2:30 a.m. First the brain cells start to die, then comes heaviness in the eye....

Whether you're reading this blog for the first time today or have been a loyal nine-year follower (Blogger counts 16 of them), I deeply thank you for your interest. It has been humbling. Thank you for your input, which occasionally has been stinging. And I leave you with words I wanted to leave for co-workers at two other jobs, but could not because of circumstances -- words made famous by Georgia's own Alan Jackson:

Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee

I learned a lot about living, and a little about love.

© 2003-11 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Saturday, September 24, 2011

24 SEP 11: Mentions of Troy

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find the following items humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

Did he do it? I really don't know. Even after hearing and reading plenty of arguments pro and con, I don't know. When it comes to high-profile cases like the one which caused all the controversy in Georgia this week, I'm not a Chief Justice. More often than not, my title should be Waffle King.

Since my background is in journalism, I watched the Troy Davis story from a distance -- even though a few people wanted to drag me into the fight. And I'm thankful no physical fighting broke out at the state penitentiary when it was over Wednesday night. One wrong move at the wrong moment, and "Selma 1965" could have found a brother named "Jackson 2011."

There was plenty of emotion over the last few days of Troy Davis's life. Now there's time to sort things out, and see what is backed up by fact and what isn't. It's a little bit like what Georgia football fans went through, after the Boise State game.

Let's start with a quick review of what happened, and what could have happened but didn't:

+ A reprieve from Governor Nathan Deal couldn't happen. GPB reported Georgia's Governor is one of only five in the U.S. who by law cannot make one of those movie-script last-second phone calls to save lives. He can only change living people's careers by executive order, as a state climatologist discovered.

+ President Obama could have intervened, but he didn't. In fact, he's only pardoned 17 people since taking office. That's five more than George W. Bush's pace -- but shouldn't a supposed "bleeding-heart liberal" have liberated hundreds by now?

+ Some Twitter users found special irony in the fact that the final appeal rejection notice came from Clarence Thomas. He's Georgia's contribution to the U.S. Supreme Court, and grew up in the Savannah area where Troy Davis was arrested. But for Thomas's critics, skin color should have run thicker than a map book.

+ Other online comments compared Troy Davis to Casey Anthony, and called it a classic case of racial injustice. They somehow missed the news about Lawrence Brewer -- a white supremacist executed in Texas the same night for the dragging death of James Byrd. Brewer's execution came even faster, and seemingly without NAACP complaints.

+ Mark McPhail's mother amazed me, with all the live TV interviews she did on the night of the execution. Annaliese MacPhail was on CNN with Anderson Cooper. She was on WXTX not once, but twice. For someone "waiting by the phone," she stood outside on her front lawn in Columbus an awful lot.

+ Perhaps less amazing was the report that someone drove by Annaliese MacPhail's home Wednesday night and yelled, "Save Troy Davis." As if she was going to recant, after rejecting the recantations of seven other people....

+ WTVM/WXTX again showed why in terms of coverage it is the "News Leader" of Columbus. (Yes, even after I was fired from there.) WRBL wasn't live anywhere at 11:00 p.m., not even at the mother's house. Who knows how many Kurt Schmitz fans broke their promise never to watch his old station again?

With all that said, I'm posting this on a Saturday for several reasons. Several deep issues and images came up in the Troy Davis case, which cry out for more discussion....

1. SEVEN OVER TWO? Davis's backers constantly declared seven of the nine prosecution witnesses at his trial recanted their testimony. Maybe so -- but what about the other two? Where have they been in recent months? Why didn't Mark MacPhail's supporters bring out a recounting, to counter recanting?

My Bible tells me the "testimony of two or three witnesses" is enough to convict someone of a crime -- even a capital crime such as murder. If District Attorney Julia Slater and her staff can't find those witnesses, that's another matter....

2. THAT'S AN ORDER, FRIEND. There was no doubt which side Columbus Fraternal Order of Police President Randy Robertson would take in this case. But there were times when the "tough cop" side of him came out. For instance, Robertson demanded all his Georgia Facebook friends post a picture of Mark MacPhail -- or "I WILL DEFRIEND YOU." Quite a change from the "Officer Friendly" I saw in grade school assemblies....

Part of me wants to say Randy Robertson's demand made him look more like a bully than a friend. After all, does a true friend require someone to change their behavior or actions? Well, this is why you should be careful about considering your workplace boss your friend....

Yet Jesus did put a stipulation on friendship with Him. It's in John 15: "You are my friends if you do what I command." That's proven to be a tough requirement for a lot of people. Ask any Tea Party member about "rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's."

Proverbs 27 advises against forsaking friends. But Proverbs 22 warns against making "friends with a hot-tempered man." Unless, perhaps, you're paying him to be a bodyguard during weekend nights on Broadway.

3. TAKE ME, I'M YOURS. The most powerful picture I saw all week regarding the Troy Davis case came from downtown Atlanta. A pastor chained himself to a flagpole outside a Georgia state building, offering to give his life in exchange for Davis, The District Attorney's office might want to write down Marvin Morgan's name, for future death penalty cases.

Pastor Marvin Morgan promised to stage a protest fast while chained to a pole for as long as he can. You might dismiss it as a publicity stunt, but he was symbolizing (at least) what Jesus did for all of us. The end of Romans 6 says we're all under a "death sentence," because of our sins. Some people simply get more attention for it than others....

But Romans 5 points out Jesus Christ paid the death penalty for us long ago. It was a penalty He didn't have to pay, because He never sinned at all. I think that's a really good deal, which more people should accept. It certainly beats that offer on radio of "a 40-dollar tan for a 20-dollar bill."

4. THE END OF IT ALL? Many media reports called Wednesday night's execution "the end" of the long drama. If you think it is, think again. Troy Davis's last words asked people to keep investigating his case. And Georgia civil rights groups have spent decades doing that very thing, attempting to clear people's names. I doubt Columbus Police would merge its "cold case" unit with theirs, but you never know.

By extension, I don't think what happened Wednesday night is the absolute end for Troy Davis -- just as it was not the end for Mark MacPhail in 1989. Hebrews 9 reminds me humans die, "and after that to face judgment." And from what I can tell, the Georgia Supreme Court will not be reassembled for that one....

Revelation 20 tells of a time when almost all people will stand for judgment before Christ. But it indicates that won't happen for at least 1,000 years. Wow -- Harold Camping's revised date of 21 October apparently is going to be wrong again.

The good news is that by taking advantage of Jesus's offer to pay the death penalty for us, you can be brought back to life when He returns -- 1,000 years before everybody else. I told you that was a really good deal. Even if II Peter 3 notes 1,000 years are like only one day to God.

When that real judgment day comes, a God who sees everything will reveal exactly what happened on that fateful night in 1989. Both victim and suspect are likely to be there, along with all of their closest friends and relatives. And hopefully they'll know better than to talk back to Jesus -- because I suspect He can respond even tougher than Judge Judy.

COMING SUNDAY: A big announcement some blog readers have waited a long time to see....

Our count of unique visitors from January to August was up 22 percent from 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment about this blog, write me - but be warned: I may post your e-mail and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 569 (- 59, 9.4%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-11 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Friday, September 23, 2011

23 SEP 11: Water-Fall

Today is the first day of autumn in Columbus. During my college years, I drove home from campus one fall Saturday morning to relax with the family. But I wound up on top of the house, because the rest of the family decided it was time to put new shingles on the roof. For a while, political science textbooks seemed a bit more appealing.

After a hot and dry summer which left almost the entire Columbus area with an extreme drought, water seems to be making a comeback with the change of seasons. A surprise rainstorm developed in my neighborhood Thursday night, as I began to write this edition. Yes, I know it was cloudy almost all day - but who really expected the clouds to give up long after dark?

This week's rainfall may wind up costing Columbus more than we realized. Deputy City Manager David Arrington told WRBL Thursday Comer Auditorium might be declared a loss beyond repair, due to a partial roof cave-in and water damage. The gym floor has standing water - and it came too early in the season for basketball towel crews to train for the clean-up.

David Arrington says the city of Columbus has property damage insurance for Comer Auditorium, with a $50,000 deductible. So far, no one has answered the obvious question - whether the secret fund for the Columbus Blazers basketball team could have paid for that.

Comer Auditorium has been a landmark in Bibb City for decades - and perhaps the only fully-intact landmark left, after the River Mill fire of 2008. What will that neighborhood do, if the gym has to be torn down? With all the water on the floor, is it too late to postpone Monday's groundbreaking for the MidTown natatorium and move the location?

Only a few blocks from Comer Auditorium, rainfall probably was a welcome sight Thursday - at the Chattahoochee River. After all, we don't want to require whitewater rafters to bring their own gallon jugs to fill the course....

A "River Blast" event above the Columbus Riverwalk officially kicked off the "Ready 2 Raft" construction work downtown. We posted a picture of heavy equipment in the river Monday. This gathering allowed local leaders to show they can put on helmets and hard hats, too. Only when they absolutely have to do it, but they can.

Whitewater developer John Turner says something had to be done on the Chattahoochee downtown, because the river dams are more than 100 years old and probably would collapse before long. So why not show a little patience, and wait for that to happen. Several church groups would love to do a reenactment of the Red Sea crossing.

Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter joined Columbus Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson at the River Blast event. You may recall Coulter expressed concern months ago about his city being left out of the whitewater project's planning stages. He's apparently now satisfied a new place to raft won't give him the shaft.

(Since the entire Chattahoochee River downtown is considered part of Columbus, Sonny Coulter should be thankful he was invited to be part of the ceremony at all. But Phenix City skeptics say Coulter has a secret weapon at his disposal - a city sewage treatment plant which sometimes spills, and could make this a brown-water course.)

I'm not sure if any of the local leaders went for a sneak-preview boat ride on the river, but the evening news showed a group of people carrying a raft over their heads on the Columbus Riverwalk. You'd think Columbus State fine arts majors would have had classes to attend....

Exact details of the whitewater project still are not final, but promoters say it will end with a new restaurant overlooking the Chattahoochee. Why spend all that money for membership in the River Club, when you can visit a Captain D's where the fish seems fresher than ever?

With hope the right parts of Columbus dry out soon, let's quickly check other items from the last full day of summer....

+ Phenix City attorney Dana Gentry was arrested at his office. If I understand the legal language properly, he's charged with possessing a bad check as well as "criminal simulation." If criminal simulation is against the law, then how did Crimestoppers get away with all those reenactments on the evening news years ago?

+ Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski lectured Fort Benning soldiers about teamwork. Please do not be confused about this. Simply because he's known as "Coach K" does NOT mean he's to blame for high gas prices at Circle K.

+ WBOJ-FM "88.5 the Truth" announcer Garrett Lee told WXTX he went through three separate for "The X Factor" in Dallas. But an e-mail finally informed him he was NOT chosen for the TV show. From the clips I've seen on Fox, Lee might have made it to Hollywood if he had worn a wig and acted like Lady Gaga.

+ The Springer Opera House opened its new theatrical season with "The Blues Brothers Revue." I drove past the entrance before showtime and spotted a man near the door with sunglasses, a dark fedora hat - and a noticeable gray beard. Aw, c'mon! That's jazz, not the blues.

+ Troup County trampled Columbus in high school football 44-0. The game at Kinnett Stadium was delayed for awhile due to lightning - undoubtedly sparked by Troup returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown.

Our count of unique visitors from January to August was up 22 percent from 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment about this blog, write me - but be warned: I may post your e-mail and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 628 (+ 17, 2.8%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-11 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Thursday, September 22, 2011

22 SEP 11: Where-a-Cop-a Parked

Wednesday night was a night of tension and anxiety for a lot of Georgians. You can't blame some of them for being nervous and on edge. It's left to your humor blogger to attempt to offer a bit of comedy relief -- so I will say nothing here today about Atlanta's baseball team losing to Florida again.

We'll focus instead on a place I considered the "Central Park" of Columbus when I moved here 14 years ago. In fact, I considered renting a duplex which was under renovation in the Lakebottom area. But when I walked into the middle of a work project, the workers openly presumed I wouldn't be interested. I guess I didn't look like a Home Depot kind of guy.

Lakebottom Park and the surrounding area is a popular location for a lot of residents - but the news from there this week has been a bit on the wild side. Two arrests mentioned in the Ledger-Enquirer make me wonder if a weird gang is trying to take over. They might go by the name "Lakebottom Lulus."

The most recent case in Wednesday's paper involved a man police say was following women around Lakebottom Park. The suspect reportedly carried a camera phone, and tried to take pictures of their (ahem) posteriors. So we could call this the saga of the sagging cell phone....

A woman on the Lakebottom Park walking track reportedly noticed what the suspect was doing - and when she turned around to face the paparazzo, police claim he said: "You are the baddest (woman) out here." I'm glad he settled that, because police think they know who the baddest guy was.

At that point, other Lakebottom Park patrons reportedly intervened. Police say women watched the suspect hide in some bushes - then when he tried to follow another woman around the track, a man held him on the ground until officers showed up. That'll teach this scofflaw to attempt some razzle-dazzle during football season....

Police arrested the man with a cell phone - then reportedly discovered his battery was dead. For all we know, he may not have snapped any photos at all. So after the suspect serves his time, he might be "behind in his work" in more ways than one.

The cell phone saga follows the Monday arrest of another man at the Lakebottom Park baseball fields. This man reportedly was spotted on the diamonds with his pants pulled down to his ankles. The Valley Rescue Mission thrift stores need belt donations more than ever....

This suspect reportedly had an explanation for Columbus Police about his actions. He claimed he was tucking in his shirt. And for that, you drop your pants almost to the ground?! Which employer gives its staff shirts that are six sizes too large?

The suspect allegedly kept talking - and eventually admitted he's a sex offender, who was using the baseball fields to (ahem) go to the bathroom. If it was March instead of September, a Peach Little League player might have picked up some habits to embarrass his parents for years to come.

Put these two cases together with last year's razor blades taped to the playground equipment, and you start to wonder what's going on at Lakebottom. The place someone dubbed a "prince of parks" after renovations years ago may need extra attention from police -- before these alleged freaks add to the list of corrupted faculty members at Columbus High School.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. See what we mean at "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: After waiting for replies which did not come, a Russell County town's unofficial prosecutor continues his assault....

"Sir" Richard:

You are truly AAAmaZZZing! You seem to have total recall. My Sunday offering unearthed my: years ago, introduction to Grant Writer Bob Corwin. Back then it was a Town Park he was promoting with the grant from ADECA for $i50,000.00 as his goal. The "good" old government coughed up the dough even though the Town of "Hurt'sboro didn't keep its end of the bargain. And, there seems to be some question as to where a large ammount of the money ended up.

When I first contacted ADECA they were very cooperative - when I questioned their bookkeeping, the door was slammed in my face. I managed to get my hands on some of the checks; and I can assure you, Bob Corwin got his commission.

Then there's the "Streetscape" fiasco where "Gas" tax funds were used to build a sidewalk. That deal was also orchestrated by Mr. Corwin.

I must give Mr. Corwin credit for his patience. The sewer grant was a long time in coming. In fact, it was applied for, well ahead of the Park and Streetscape requests. There's no question, that the sewer in the eastern part of "Hurt'sboro needs repair. But so do the storm drains and the streets in that section of town.

The Water & Sewer Board were, (inorder of events) determined to do the prject, convinced to borrow money and put it in a municipaly controlled account, and duped into thinking that Bob Corwin and Sentell Engineering wouldn't be involved in the project.

Much to their surprise; they have learned the hard way, that the Mayor is a significant player,the funding is inadequate to do the job as planned, and that Bob Corwin and Sentell engineering are calling the shots.

A local fellow with engineering credentials is looking after "Hurt's boro's best interests. He has a set of plans, and follows the contractor from man-hole to man-hole and takes notes on the existing conditions. The first phase of the project, (cleaning and inspection) has been completed.

Now, it's left up to an analysis of the on-site Engineer's notes by the project engineer, followed by a presentation of recommendations to the Water & sewer Board. I'm told this series of steps will take at least a month to complete.

By the way! I'm being told that Bob Corwin has already cashed his check.

R.J. Schweiger

Sorry, I do NOT have total recall. My humble Honda has been losing one part at a time because of age, not warnings from the company.

I also have a good blog search engine, which allowed me to backtrack to Robert Corwin's years of work with the city of Hurtsboro . It turns out he's a "consultant" for several Alabama towns - and if enough council members swapped notes with each other, they might be able to chase Corwin across the Oglethorpe Bridge and into Columbus.

Sentell Engineering has not replied to our e-mail, seeking a comment on Robert Schweiger's accusations. An e-mail sent to Robert Corwin bounced back, citing an invalid address. Maybe he's visiting a different town this week....

Doesn't it sound like an action-packed job, to take notes on city "manholes"? If one of those things is faulty, your work could take a dive in several different ways.

Another e-mail from Robert Schweiger came Wednesday. But I'm imposing a "one per day" rule, holding it until later and moving on to other issues....

+ An overnight thunderstorm caused part of the roof to collapse at Comer Auditorium in Bibb City. That's where the Parks and Recreation Department is based, so now it has to move. But shouldn't this symbolic message have been sent to the Parks Director about a year ago?

+ Muscogee County Prison Warden Bill Adamson announced he's retiring after 21 years. He faced some questions in recent years, because several prison inmates walked away and escaped while on city work duty [14 Jun 07]. Yet to this day, I still don't inmates with long bungee cords attached from their waists to city trash trucks.

+ The Georgia-based Hall of Fame rock band R.E.M. announced it's breaking up after 30 years. Well, the official online message says the band decided to "call it a day." They could have been more clever, and declared it's time for some R.E.M. sleep.

+ Instant Message to Alabama head football coach Nick Saban: I hope what you said the other day was accurate. Today's college football players should get "crunked" for big games in Tuscaloosa. But in Athens, Georgia, I fear some players get drunk instead.

Our count of unique visitors from January to August was up 22 percent from 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment about this blog, write me - but be warned: I may post your e-mail and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 611 (+ 13, 2.2%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-11 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

21 SEP 11: Call the Bouncers
Yes, I know what the big local news story was Tuesday. But no, I'm still not planning to make any jokes about it here - because people on both sides probably are ready to set up a picket line outside my door.

Instead, I've noticed something else on Columbus TV in the last 48 hours. If you've been counting the days until the big change at WTVM's digital channel 9.2, you may have miscounted. It's already happened. The 24-hour updates on the forecast are gone. And "Weather Now" now is officially Weather Then.

WTVM has replaced Weather Now with messages promoting the new "Bounce TV," which officially debuts next Monday. Shame on those of you who thought Bounce TV referred to the N.B.A. Network....

Bounce TV has Georgia roots, as the network's founders include former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young and Martin Luther King III. But it's not clear to me why it's called Bounce. Does it have less static cling than other channels?

The founders of Bounce TV admit their aim is to provide African-American programs -- and that apparently concerns some local viewers. I've read online grumbling suggesting such a channel will divide Columbus. Why, of course -- no African-American leaders will want to watch the 6:00 p.m. news when "Soul Train" is on against it.

The critics may be wondering why WTVM General Manager and "One Columbus" advocate Lee Brantley would add Bounce TV. But maybe he felt compelled to add an African-American network - especially since Queen Latifah and Montel Williams stopped doing their talk shows years ago.

But I think Lee Brantley was compelled to add Bounce TV for another reason - corporate bosses requiring it. Raycom Media made a commitment months ago to put the network on many of its digital TV channels across the country. And I assume the check written in Montgomery didn't bounce at all....

The critics of Bounce TV have a valid point, when it comes to ethnic division in the media. We've noted here before how the Columbus radio dial (and it's not merely Columbus) reflects a great deal of segregation by music format. Yet I haven't heard anyone demand Davis Broadcasting play an hour of polka music every week on WFXE "Foxie 105."

("What about Hispanics?" one online comment asked. Drive to Atlanta or Orlando, and you'll find they already have Hispanic TV channels. But WHAL-AM never gained any numbers in the Columbus radio ratings with "Viva 1460" -- leaving El Vaquero as the place with the best salsa in town.)

But a close look at the Bounce TV lineup reveals not every program will be primarily African-American. Take the Saturday morning children's shows. I watched "Real Life 101" on WXTX years ago, and its team of hosts had ethnic diversity. People who want Fat Albert marathons will have to track down a DVD boxed set.

My biggest puzzle in WTVM's decision is that "Weather Now" was dropped to add Bounce TV. The Raycom station in Savannah is putting Bounce TV on a third digital channel, at 11.3. Couldn't WTVM add a third channel, to keep weather updates on the air - and give equal opportunity to computer-generated voices reading the forecast?

That's enough bouncing for today. Let's now rock, skate and roll through some headlines you may have missed from the last couple of days:
+ The East Wing entrance to the Government Center reopened, after being closed for two months. The closure was designed to save money and improve security, but Sheriff John Darr says some disabled people were hindered from getting license plates. Let's hope no one shows up there with a set of fully-loaded crutches.

+ Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson took her "Let's Talk" forum series to an American Legion post on Cusseta Road. The mayor told reporters the first forum on Forrest Road led to improvements in the Carver Park area. For instance, Sunday National Football League games started at a perfect time....

+ The Muscogee County School Board voted to install security cameras in the hallways of 17 schools. The hallways?! Aren't teachers more likely to proposition students inside their classrooms?

+ Fort Benning's public affairs office announced Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will visit post and lecture soldiers Thursday. A news release spelled Krzyzewski's name correctly, but declared him coach of "the current college basketball national champions." Will someone please inform this office there WERE games after the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament?

(Krzyzewski once coached at Army, where his players included current Fort Benning Commanding General Robert Brown. That must be where Brown learned skills in the high post.)

+ Instant Message to St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church on Macon Road: Ooh boy -- your Sunday sermon title is "Shake Off the Snakes"?! Do I have to give up Columbus Cottonmouths hockey, too?

TEN YEARS' LAUGHTER/21 SEP 01: President Bush went to Capitol Hill Thursday night to prepare the U.S. for the fight against terrorism. He put the situation in absolute terms: "Freedom and fear are at war." We've felt that same sort of emotional battle in recent years -- owing the Internal Revenue Service at tax time.

President Bush kept things basic at times in his speech. For instance, he said: "Americans are asking: Who attacked our country?" If they're still asking after all the U.S. government statements and news reports, they must be conspiracy buffs.

President Bush assured the U.S., "This will not be an age of terror. This will be an age of liberty." Of course, many moms and dads already have passed the age of terror - when their children were two years old.

For a change, the opposite party did NOT offer a reply to the President's speech. Instead, Congressional leaders from BOTH parties joined to declare their unity with Mr. Bush. Isn't it nice to see Republicans and Democrats as united on-camera, as they are after hours at the bar?

An amazing thing happened in Philadelphia when President Bush's speech began. A preseason hockey game was underway - and the fans demanded the third period WAIT until the President finished speaking! They probably wanted to hear the first bombs had dropped. You KNOW how much hockey fans love a good fight....

The President's speech lasted more than 30 minutes - and when it ended, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers players shook hands and left the ice. The teams never played the third period! Mr. Bush had better not give any speeches on Sunday - or the Super Bowl might not be played until May.

Our count of unique visitors from January to August was up 22 percent from 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment about this blog, write me - but be warned: I may post your e-mail and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 598 (+ 29, 5.1%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-11 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.
site stats

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

20 SEP 11: Something or Nothing?

It's been quite a long time since we played a game here about the news of the day. So today let's try one called - hey, the title's already up there - "Something or Nothing?" We'll consider several developments around the area, and determine if they amount to something or nothing. And remember: if it's "next to nothing," it's probably still something.

1. EXPEDIA EXPENDITURES. Have you noticed is running commercials during Columbus TV newscasts? I've seen them on WRBL for several nights. And they raise an obvious question - how can this travel website find TV stations in town, when it can't find any motels?

The TV commercials are straightforward, promoting the travel deals you can get through . They say nothing about the long legal fight with the city of Columbus over hotel-motel taxes. But then again, Columbus residents aren't likely to book local rooms online in the first place.

In terms of our game, I'm leaning toward saying these TV commercials are SOMETHING. They show Expedia is willing to spend a little money in Columbus. The website simply trusts that money in Teresa Whitaker's hands more than City Attorney Clifton Fay's.

But we should watch carefully to see if Expedia's investment in Columbus TV time affects the news coverage of its legal fight. At least WRBL should offer a nice donation to the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

2. "MAD HATTER" HYATT. Shame on The River City Report. It noted Monday's main topic about a circus ticket offer from Mark Cantrell, and compared it with a weekend post at Richard Hyatt's website. Hyatt revealed he was an "honorary ringmaster" during the 2010 Shrine Circus. That ranks him far above me - because my "free ticket" might have been in the top row.

The River City Report is implying Richard Hyatt was unethical to accept Mark Cantrell's ringmaster offer. But I'm ruling this fuss is NOTHING. Cantrell was NOT a Muscogee County School Board member last September - simply a candidate. And Hyatt apparently didn't mention Cantrell on his website for a year after receiving the honor. That's certainly unusual "hush money."

3. THE TROY DAVIS TRIAL. Yes, this is SOMETHING. And for now, I don't dare say anything else about it here....

4. SATURDAY NIGHT RACING. The Ledger-Enquirer reported on a weekend police chase from Phenix City to Columbus and back. Authorities say it ended with the suspect stopping his car outside the Russell County Jail, getting out with his hands up and surrendering. At least they say he surrendered - but he might have decided he won a Formula One race.

Authorities say the police chase went from South Railroad Street in Phenix City across the 13th Street Bridge, around the Columbus Government Center, then through the Linwood neighborhood and down Cusseta Road. If Columbus television stations only had a helicopter -- we could have had a live local episode of "Cops."

Unless there's a police dashboard recording of this chase, we have to conclude it was NOTHING. Even in Columbus, the idea of using sketches to describe dramatic showdowns went the way of the Spanish-American War.

5. THE FRENCH CONNECTION. Legacy Chevrolet owner Emanuel Jones resurrected a familiar name in the Columbus car business. Chris "Mark 'em All Down" French is his new general sales manager. You'd think two young tag-team spokesmodels on TV would be enough to sell cars in this city....

Chris French took a break from selling cars, to start an organic farm in Harris County [24 May]. I'm not sure if he's still involved with that farm. But if someone wants a red Chevrolet, French will have a tomato handy to prove the color's right.

Emanuel Jones said in a TV commercial he's "bringing back" Chris French. French once was sales manager at Bill Heard Cadillac, on the grounds of Legacy Chevrolet. That convinces me this announcement is SOMETHING - since even with the great recession, French has found his second automotive job in three years.

6. WOMAN'S PURSE STRINGS. Alabama now has its first female state finance director. But if you think Marquita Davis will improve the state's financial situation simply by being female, I fear you'll be disappointed - and you'll wind up feeling Marquita-sad.

While I wish her well, I think the appointment of Marquita Davis will amount to NOTHING. After all, Alabama didn't avoid proration with Kay Ivey as state treasurer -- and the "529 College Savings Plan" has done well to avoid dropping to about 440.

7. CAM-DEMONIUM. Some Columbus residents have decided enough Cam Newton hype is enough. The hosts of WDAK's Morning Show appealed to local TV sportscasters Monday to stop focusing on Newton. He's no longer playing for Auburn, they argued - and you may recall Toomer's Corner was NOT rolled when Jason Campbell moved from Washington to Oakland.

The WDAK hosts also said Cam Newton now plays for the Atlanta Falcons' division rivals in Carolina. Yet minutes later, Scott Miller noted "Matthew Stafford had a big day" for Detroit -- and Stafford stopped playing quarterback for Georgia three years ago. Or did Miller do that in case federal "fairness doctrine" rules for radio come back?

I can see the radio hosts' point, but Cam Newton has thrown for more than 400 yards in his first two N.F.L. starts. So at this early point in the season, I'm declaring the former Auburn quarterback SOMETHING - at least until the Atlanta Falcon defense does to him what it did to Michael Vick the other night.

TEN YEARS' LAUGHTER/20 SEP 01: President Bush flatly refused a suggestion from Afghanistan that the U.S. negotiate a handover of Osama bin-Laden. The idea now rests in a new computer file created exclusively for the White House - the "Recycle Bin-Laden."

Afghanistan's government ordered CNN journalists to leave the country Wednesday. So much for it becoming the "Kabul News Network...."

Several airports have removed all knives from their kitchens and restaurants. For those of us who love Cinnabons, this is NO inconvenience. Eating them openly and unashamedly with your fingers is a dream come true.

Several Las Vegas casinos report business has dropped by a third since the skyjackings. It certainly doesn't feel right to tell a blackjack dealer, "Hit me...."

Major college football resumes its regular schedule. For security reasons, blimps will NOT fly over stadiums for awhile. You'll have to settle for the ones playing on the offensive and defensive lines.

Our count of unique visitors from January to August was up 22 percent from 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment about this blog, write me - but be warned: I may post your e-mail and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 569 (+ 11, 2.0%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-11 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats

Monday, September 19, 2011

19 SEP 11: Circus Mark's-imus

The weekly Columbus siren test went as scheduled over the weekend. And this time I was awake at 12:00 noon to hear it. It's not that I'm keeping score, mind you - I think that's part of the reason why Riley Land still has a city job.

But moments after Saturday's siren test, the phone rang - and it was completely unexpected. Muscogee County School Board member Mark Cantrell was calling. I'd only mentioned him once in this blog since mid-May [26 Aug] - and I really don't keep a scoreboard, when it comes to jokes about elected officials.

"I've been reading your blog for about a year," Mark Cantrell told me. "And you seemed like someone who's never been to a circus, so I want you to come as my guest." This past weekend was the annual Shrine Circus, of course - one of Cantrell's big causes. In fact, sometimes I think Jeremy Hobbs and Cantrell are in a race to have more big events each year.

But Mark Cantrell's presumption was incorrect. I've been to circuses before. A few times, in fact - and I'm not counting utility board meetings which got out of hand.

One Sunday long ago, my mother came to me asking if I wanted to go to the circus. I said no. I quickly learned my mom was NOT asking multiple-choice questions.

I don't remember now what I wanted to do on that Sunday. But I was a rebellious five-or-so year-old who didn't want to go to the circus -- and especially didn't want other people telling me what to do. I could stop here and draw conclusions about half-a-dozen big local news stories, but I won't....

My nine-year-older brother then pulled an ingenious stunt, by pulling out the family Stratego board. If he won a game, I could stay home. If I won, I had to go to the circus. Trouble is, he put the flag of victory in his front row - and I knocked it over in about two moves. This is why I haven't played my brother in Monopoly in decades.

(I told my older brother about this moment Sunday night, and he didn't remember it. This surprised me a little - because he beat me in board games so often that a loss ought to stick out in his mind.)

So feeling a bit scammed (even before I knew what a scam was), I went with my family to the Kansas City Police Circus. The only real memory I have from that trip is how hard it was to follow acts in three rings at the same time. Yet you never hear people connect circuses with attention deficit disorder.

If police officers were part of the Kansas City Police Circus, I don't remember them. This was in the 1960s - long before officers might show up with an arrest warrant, to haul away lion tamers for animal abuse.

The last circus I attended was an unusual one during college. The Royal Lichtenstein Quarter-Ring Circus set up shop in the middle of campus around finals week -- a parody more than anything. I didn't sit around long enough to realize it was a form of street ministry. I left when the ringmaster uttered his rhyme: "The faster you put your money down, the sooner we'll be out of town."

So yes, I've been to the circus. But when Mark Cantrell made his ticket offer Saturday, I quickly turned him down. For one thing, it was the seventh-day Sabbath -- and I had an afternoon worship service to attend. If Cantrell is free next weekend, I'll be singing a song which might remind him of the circus. Only it mentions lambs along with lions....

Yet I didn't mention to Mark Cantrell a second reason why I turned down his offer. Even though Cantrell probably called wearing the fez of the Shriners, he's now an elected official - and the rules of good journalism say all gifts from elected officials should be declined. Whether this blog qualifies as "good journalism" obviously is a matter of dispute.

Blogging admittedly has become a gray area, in terms of whether or not to accept favors. Some "mommy blogs" have accepted products from businesses, using the explanation that they were for rating and reviewing. I haven't gone after any such gifts, and no one had offered me any until now -- which in part explains why I drive a very old car.

While I appreciate Mark Cantrell's generous offer, I would have bought my own ticket if I wanted to review the Shrine Circus. That's what I did in March, when I attended the Winterjam concert at the Civic Center. And I'd like to thank Georgia Tech for scheduling Saturday's game against Kansas for midday, so I wasn't tempted to buy a ticket to watch that debacle.

By the way, did you notice we're now in the "busy season" for Columbus activities? The Shrine Circus occurred on the same weekend as the annual Harris County rodeo. So why don't these two events merge? It would be fun to watch cowboys try to rope and tie down elephants.

The Shrine Circus weekend may have had a bad influence on some spectators. I drove down Victory Drive for dinner Saturday night, and found two people sharing a bicycle - pedaling west in the eastbound passing lane. Imagine if those people knew how to climb to the top of a telephone pole.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. See what we mean at "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: We have a new regular correspondent, watching downtown Phenix City -- complete with a camera....

you have your way of fishin' - they have theirs.

Of course, the construction equipment in the Chattahoochee River is due to the whitewater development that.... well, wait a minute. I'm assuming that's why the equipment is there. Then again, they've pulled three abandoned cars out of West Point Lake this year.

Let's dig up other news from the weekend....

+ WLTZ reported Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor raised money for the United Way by letting himself be dropped in a "dunk tank." Please do NOT spread false reports about this. Taylor did NOT appear ready for a drunk tank.

+ The Opelika-Auburn News reported Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller plans to seek a third term. He sent an e-mail to all city councilors, expressing hope they'll also be reelected. I can't wait for Fuller to hand them souvenir rubber stamps.

+ The pastor of Saint Luke United Methodist Church presented a sermon called "Jesus: Human, Worldly and Liberal." Does he plan to repeat that message outdoors next weekend, when the picketers from Westboro Baptist Church show up?

+ CNN showed Georgia Governor Nathan Deal throwing a metal skillet at a competition in Quitman. He would have thrown the pan farther, except for two things. He wore a coat and tie [true] - and no Democrats were standing at the other end of the field.

+ Auburn dropped out of the college football poll, after losing the national championship title to Clemson 38-24. WTVM reports some fans want defensive coordinator Ted Roof fired. After only three games?! Some fans seem to be confusing college football with Survivor.

+ Alabama remained undefeated by nullifying North Texas 41-0. The visiting Mean Green were penalized on one kickoff for putting two players on the field with the same number. This was startling to me - because it indicated North Texas was prepared to have dozens of players get knocked out with injuries.

+ Instant Message to the U.S. Postal Service: My older brother assures me he has NOT moved. So why did the birthday card I sent him come back marked, "Return to sender, no such number"? The address was absolutely correct. Has the staff lost its vision benefits due to budget-cutting already?

TEN YEARS' LAUGHTER/19 SEP 01: Saddam Hussein dared to suggest the Tuesday of Terror might be completely an INSIDE job -- pulled off by U.S. residents, not Afghanistan. OK, who made Iraq's President a member of the American Civil Liberties Union?

Saddam Hussein accused U.S. leaders of trying to develop "a clash between Christianity and Islam." That doesn't seem quite accurate. The last time we saw so many Muslim and Christian ministers together in the U.S., they were handing out tracts side-by-side at the airport.

One of the strangest sights we've seen since the skyjackings was on local TV news last Friday. A grade school class was shown watching the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance service in Washington on television. Who let this happen? If the children prayed aloud themselves, there would be lawsuits....

Our count of unique visitors from January to August was up 22 percent from 2010! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment about this blog, write me - but be warned: I may post your e-mail and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 558 (- 12, 2.1%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-11 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats