Sunday, August 31, 2003




Visitors to "Columbus InMotion" Saturday may have been surprised by the big signs on one Broadway business. The shop best known as "Bagel Break" has lost its lease! When I see signs like this, I keep reminding myself to get a safe deposit box....

The shop was known as Bagel Break when it opened a few years ago near 10th and Broadway. Now it's one of the "Mary's New York Café" restaurants - and it's suddenly forced to find a new location. And to make matters worse, most of the prime space nearby is turning into loft apartments.

The morning manager at Bagel Break tells me the landlord of the building gave them until October to move out - and did NOT give a reason for it. This is getting ridiculous! Is Columbus State University moving its ENTIRE campus downtown?

The signs outside Bagel Break not only say "lost our lease" -- but "can you help us find a new home?" As someone who lives near this restaurant, this is one time I hope Columbus Park Crossing is full.

It could be argued Bagel Break was the forerunner in the move of business and activities back to downtown Columbus. Until that shop opened, the only reasons to visit Broadway were for drinking and outlandish nightclub clothes.

Apparently in preparation for the move, Bagel Break also has posted signs saying it will NOT be open on Sundays anymore. I don't understand this change at all - unless First Presbyterian Church felt the bagels made the neighborhood look too Jewish.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Bagel Break, for several reasons. The restaurant let me set up newsstand racks for a church magazine last year. Trouble was, someone stole TWO newsstands - magazines, rack and all! If you don't like what we publish, at least put your own magazine there and be competitive.

Bagel Break is also a favorite of mine because of the "fragel." It rhymes with bagel -- only a bagel is fried and coated with cinnamon sugar. It's the closest thing downtown Columbus has to a doughnut shop.

In recent months, a coffee shop opened next to Bagel Break, "Fountain City Coffee Co." I don't drink coffee, so I can't speak to how good it is -- but a place that offers guest cellists for evening entertainment may be a bit too upscale for this town.

By the way, did you go to Columbus InMotion Saturday? I stopped for a short time during the evening, as a short-course bike race was underway. After more than two miles of jogging, the cyclists rushing by at more than 30 miles per hour felt quite refreshing.

On up Broadway, it was a dangerous weekend. Three people were shot around 3:00 a.m. Saturday at the "Columbus Live" nightclub. What are people trying to do - get the name changed to Columbus Dead?

I've acquired a promotional flyer for Friday night's event at Columbus Live. It promised a "Labor Day Week End Smack Down," featuring someone named Pastor Troy. Somehow I thought a "smackdown" with a Pastor would involve who would leave the biggest offering.

(Whoever printed the promotional flyer misspelled the club's name as "Clombus Live." Perhaps that's why it wasn't billed as a "Back to School Smack Down.")

Saturday, August 30, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



Instant message to Auburn's football team: What sort of a strange tribute to the late Jim Fyffe was THAT? Not letting the new broadcaster say "Touchdown, Auburn" even once?!

Auburn opened its football season at home, and was stomped 23-0 by Southern California. How prophetic was the Ledger-Enquirer's front-page headline today about the Tigers - with "The Hype" in big print.

Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville's quartet of running backs, which he said during the week he was "proud" of, combined for less than 50 yards. Come to think of it, the coach did NOT say he was proud of the offensive line.

I had the rare privilege, perhaps for the first time since moving to Georgia, of hearing both Kansas and Kansas State play football on radio. K-State trampled Troy State on WDAK 41-5. As for my beloved K.U. Jayhawks, which played Northwestern on Chicago's WGN-AM - well, can't they beat ANY team wearing purple?

Speaking of which - instant message to Clear Channel Radio: It's nice to hear Scott Miller as a studio host during Troy State games on WDAK. But as many stations as you have in Columbus, why don't you have any room to air Alabama or Georgia Tech games? We CAN take a break from a "Sunny 100" eighties weekend....

The Georgia Bulldogs made quite a statement on opening day, by beating Clemson 30-0 in "Death Valley." The Clemson coaching staff apparently hasn't figured out they're more likely to have "death" in late August by making Georgia wear red, instead of white.

Speaking of seeing red: I went to the Space Science Center Friday night, hoping to get a close-up look at Mars. The late-afternoon thunderstorms had passed - and as much as high school football is hyped in Columbus, I figured 90 percent of the city would be at games.

Boy, was I wrong about the crowd! The Space Science Center had a big turnout on Friday night - so big that I thought I was in line to use telescopes, but I wound up in a line for an IMAX Mars movie. It was an interesting movie, but the theater was so dark that I almost nodded off three times.

Once the movie ended, I walked outside to the telescopes - but wouldn't you know it? A bank of clouds had rolled in while I was inside, blocking the view of Mars. Where's Duck Dodgers in the 24th-1/2 Century when you need him, to stop the Martians from doing this?

COMING SUNDAY-MONDAY: A downtown trendsetter that's suddenly in some trouble....

Friday, August 29, 2003




The caller's first words included phrases such as "Mars is getting close to Earth" and "weapons of mass destruction" I wasn't sure if I was hearing a man's delusions, or if Marvin the cartoon Martian had his giant disintegrator gun pointed toward us.

Apparently Jerald in Seale uttered those phrases just to get warmed up for a conversation with me. He wanted to alert me to an online article claiming Iraqi weapons had been found in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Trouble was, the article was at a web site hardly anyone has ever heard of - and Fox News Channel doesn't even quote.

Jerald didn't actually see this article about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. He told me his son found it on the web site of a TV prophecy preacher - and the article was so far inside the web site, he couldn't direct me to it right away. Don't you wish the Internet was as easy as, "Take a left at the row of buttons, then a right at the blinking words...."

As we talked, Jerald's main pastime became clear. He says he has a long list of phrases which add up to the Bible "beast number" of 666. I forgot to tell him about the church I attend, where tape library item #666 last year just happened to be a prophecy sermon - and the Pastor didn't even plan it that way.

Jerald says you can compute the mark of the beast based on a formula where A equals the number 6, B is the number 12, C is 18, and so on through the alphabet. Yet when I asked where he learned that code, he had no idea. Did he learn this from a church Pastor, a Bible scholar - or a retired member of the C.I.A. he met in a bar?

Jerald shared with me some of the phrases he computed with his code, as adding up to the beast number of 666 -- and of course, I HAD to share this vital information with you:

+ "COMPUTER." Finally - conclusive proof that Bill Gates wants to conquer the world.

+ "U.S. OF AMERICA." Wait until Democrats learn this -- and expose Attorney General John Ashcroft as an anti-Christ.

+ "NEW YORK." And this guy claims to attend a BAPTIST church?! He also sounds like an al-Qaeda apologist.

The problem with arbitrary codes like this is that you can find a "beast power" in almost anything. I did some figuring of Jerald's code in my head while jogging, and "COLUMBUS D.A." computes to 666! Should all the Muscogee County Prison inmates go free?

If there was anything newsworthy in Jerald's call, it was his claim that he called New York City shortly before the September 11, 2001 attacks and warned "something was about to happen." He didn't know what that something might be - but it's obvious C.I.A. agents failed again, by not calling him back.

Jerald wound up spending more than 45 minutes on the phone with me, talking about end-time Bible topics and prophecy. Perhaps he was trying to convert me - but c'mon now: wouldn't a rambling talker like this have you leaning in the other direction?

Now for some other things we've seen while rambling around town recently:

+ A prison detail truck turned in front of me on Martin Luther King Boulevard - and I saw a couple of inmates inside, clutching cigarettes. You'd think all the flying dust from cutting grass and trimming weeds would hurt their lungs enough....

+ I stopped at the Walgreen's on Wynnton Road, and a woman at the checkout was surprised to find boxes of Chips Ahoy cookies on sale. Some people simply don't get around - not even around their own store.

+ Instant message to Lil Kim's Cove on 4th Street: That Labor Day weekend beach party you're promoting sounds like fun. But what's this on the sign about a "Battle of the Sex contest?" Do you really WANT the vice squad to show up?

COMING THIS WEEKEND: We hope to get a good look at something red....

Thursday, August 28, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



Didya hear about the new favorite song of atheists in Alabama? It's "Hello, Dolly...."

A moving crew with a dolly rolled the Ten Commandments monument to a different part of the Alabama Judicial Building Wednesday. The crew reportedly came to Montgomery from Stone Mountain, Georgia - so if you protesters aren't careful, that carving into the mountain showing Robert E. Lee could be next.

The Ten Commandments monument still is inside the Alabama Judicial Building. But it's now in seclusion, away from the building's rotunda. Supporters of the monument were outraged by this move - somehow forgetting that when Israel wandered in the wilderness, the Commandments moved all the time with God's approval.

(So if you're in mourning about the Ten Commandments no longer being on public display, consider this. In the days of ancient Israel, they were kept in an ark hidden behind a curtain almost all the time.)

Supporters of the Ten Commandments monument had to be disappointed, as the moving crew rolled the display away. After all, God could have stopped this in an instant - by making all the atheists and federal judges break out in boils. Or by making the monument catch fire, with an earthquake. Or something....

The curious thing is, monument supporters have propped up their own signs with the Ten Commandments. They're on pillars outside the Alabama Judicial Building -- and so far, not one atheist has felt courageous enough to take them down or add a comment of their own.

The Alabama Judicial Building's manager took a picture of the Ten Commandments monument in a back room -- and showed it to leaders of the Christian Defense Coalition. So if pieces of the monument don't wind up on eBay, copies of that photo will.

ABC News noted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore technically owns the Ten Commandments monument. If he loses his U.S. Supreme Court appeal, what will he do? Take it on a Christian rock music concert tour?

(Hey, I've got an idea! Make clapboard signs with the Ten Commandments on them - then walk around outside churches, holding copies of my upcoming album....)

A lawsuit was heard in Mobile federal court Wednesday, arguing the removal of the Ten Commandments monument violates freedom of religion. The plaintiffs claim the God of Judeo-Christian tradition is being replaced by some sort of "non-god." They have yet to explain why the Alabama Judicial Building has no displays for Buddhism or Islam.

Overlooked in the Ten Commandments debate is a display Chief Justice Roy Moore did NOT allow some months ago. An Alabama state lawmaker wanted a tribute to Martin Luther King, Junior installed next to the monument -- but Roy Moore said no. Now no display is there, but only one still has a national holiday named after him.

My Pastor suggested the other day if "they" are kicking the Ten Commandments out of courthouses, it's only a matter of time before "they" go after swearing on a Bible inside courtroom. The Pastor somehow did NOT mention our denomination has a long tradition of "affirming" in court -- and advises against swearing on Bibles at all.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Because of the breaking news from Montgomery, our promised trip to the bank will be postponed to another day....

COMING FRIDAY: The code number is six.... or so this man says....

Wednesday, August 27, 2003




Columbus was named the host city of the 2004 Georgia Republican Convention Tuesday. Thousands of Republicans will come to town next May -- which will give that Taylor County High School prom plenty of supporters to hide behind.

A majority of Muscogee County voters chose Democrat Roy Barnes in the 2002 Governor's Race - yet Columbus will host next year's Republican convention. What's going on here? Is Rep. Calvin Smyre about to change parties, too?

The skeptic in me can't help wondering if a deal was cut, to bring the Georgia G.O.P. Convention to Columbus next May. Does this explain the sudden release of bond money for Columbus Tech? Is "Sunny 100 FM" going to change its spelling to SONNY for a few days?

(That's one question I didn't hear anyone ask during Governor Perdue's visit to Columbus. Which came first - the Republican Convention selection, or the release of bond money for Columbus Tech? Without the latter, would the G.O.P. be meeting in a tent on the Governor's farm?)

The Columbus Civic Center will be used for the 2004 Georgia Republican Convention. Apparently no one stopped to realize that building is in Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop's Congressional district. You'd think the delegates would meet in Republican Phil Gingrey's district - and you'd think Kinnett Stadium could move the Special Olympics to another
weekend, to make it possible.

The Georgia Republican Convention will be a prelude to the national G.O.P. convention next summer in New York. WRBL speculated as a result, President Bush might come to Columbus - but so far, I haven't heard anything about John McCain running for President again.

Mayor Bob Poydasheff presented Governor Perdue with a "key to the city," during the convention announcement at the Columbus Civic Center. If this is all it takes to get a key to the city, I'm going to start organizing a family reunion at Lakebottom Park.

It's estimated the thousands of Republicans visiting Columbus next May will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think the actual total will be in the millions - if they run up big deficits, the way the Bush administration is doing it.

Now for some other scattered thoughts that came up, in the wake of the big Tuesday announcement:

+ Which TV reporter may have come up with a new slogan for Columbus - the "Stepchild City?"

+ Why is Columbus Tech sponsoring Friday night football highlights shows? That school doesn't have any sports teams.

+ Is Mayor Bob Poydasheff prepared to offer suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore political asylum?

COMING THURSDAY: We encounter a bank with tough new rules, and some curious items on display....

Tuesday, August 26, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



When last we left you, we were walking around Callaway Gardens admiring the beauty of nature. Of course, one co-worker pointed out to me that good-looking sorority women can qualify as "natural beauty," too.

You need comfortable shoes to get around Callaway Gardens, because there's a good bit of walking between various attractions. You can drive around the complex, too - but anyone doing that in an SUV would probably feel guilty doing it.

The Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center at Callaway Gardens opened only three years ago. One fun feature there in Callaway's "Summer of the Bugs" is a "CRAWL-iseum" displaying unusual insects. I saw a metallic green bug, and realized where Volkswagen had come up with some of its paint schemes.

One of the beetles in the Crawl-iseum was downright HUGE - at three to four inches long. It was so big it might actually scare off all the cockroaches in my kitchen....

The Callaway Discovery Center also has an auditorium for watching nature films. Except when I passed it, most of the people were lying down on the benches - and many of them looked like the ladies of Alpha Delta Pi from Auburn. Was this their strange idea of a slumber party?

There's an amphitheater just outside the Discovery Center, where a "birds of prey" show is presented three times a day -- but I did NOT stop to watch this. I know people who have reported on the Auburn University Raptor Center's problems, so that might be enough to spread dangerous diseases.

The Mountain Creek Inn inside the Discovery Center allows you to get a nice lunch or snack. But on this day, the soda fountain wasn't working - and a 12-ounce can of diet cola costs $1.50. I KNEW it! Callaway Gardens had to have "gotcha pricing" somewhere on the grounds....

Some of the walking trails at Callaway Gardens admittedly are better to view at times other than late August. For instance, the "Rhododendron Trail" didn't really have anything in bloom -- except for signs marking where the rhododendrons are.

There's also a "Holly Trail" - which got me thinking about the old holiday song, "The Holly and the Ivy." Why DOES the holly always "wear the crown" in that song? Was that tune written in response to some pointy-headed Ivy League liberals?

Around a few bends, we drove to the Sibley Horticultural Center - which is mostly closed, for a renovation which should finish this fall. But wouldn't you know it? They found a way to keep the big gift shop open....

The Sibley Center leads to the "Azalea Bowl Trail" - a nice walk around a lake, with gates you're asked to close at either end of it. I'm not sure why gates are needed here. Do THAT many criminals try to use this park as a getaway route?

(Before you ask - no, Callaway Gardens does NOT host an Azalea Bowl football game. But if Boise, Idaho can have a bowl game, it may only be a matter of time.)

At the far end of the Azalea Bowl Trail, there's a small wooden chapel - where a woman on this Sunday afternoon was playing your songs on request. This woman has played organ at the Gardens for more than 40 years, so I didn't bother to ask for any Jennifer Lopez hits.

(As it happened, one of the organist's selections while I was there was "In the Garden" -- which begins, "I come to the garden alone." Did she really have to rub it in like this?)

Do they have weddings at the Cason chapel, you ask? So many, apparently, that there's an easily reversible sign outside it. Now who do you have in mind for me? And would you like to make the call to Auburn, to arrange it?

In short: Callaway Gardens is well worth the trip - and worth taking a couple of days to see it all. In fact, an annual hot-air balloon festival is planned at Callaway this coming weekend. Maybe the protests in Montgomery will be finished by then, and the demonstrators can help blow up the balloons.

Monday, August 25, 2003




A prelude of memoriam: I post this having learned only about an hour ago of the weekend death of a former co-worker -- one-time Columbus TV news anchor Suzanne Lawrence. She was only 34, and had years of health problems culminating in cancer. But the way she emphasized keeping an upbeat spirit through it all, I suspect she died with a smile on her face. It would be only fitting.

To our topic: thanks to a free pass from my employer, I made my first trip ever to Callaway Gardens Sunday. Well, I actually have TWO free passes - but when the lovely Ivelisse at the Salvation Army informed me she was married, it ruined everything.

I've been to nearby F.D.R. State Park in Harris County a couple of times over the years, but never had been to Callaway Gardens before Sunday. The closest I'd come was a Callaway store inside the Atlanta airport - where I guessed a "Muscadine" might be a small town south of Columbus.

The one attraction on the Callaway Gardens map which caught my attention right away was the Day Butterfly Center, because I'd heard good reports about it. Remember: butterflies are free -- but only with a paid park admission.

After watching a 15-minute film about butterflies, I walked into the greenhouse-style center. So many kinds of butterflies were fluttering around that I could understand why the Callaway Gun Club was placed a couple of miles away.

After a few minutes of wandering around and snapping a few pictures, who should walk inside the butterfly center but the ladies of Auburn University's Alpha Delta Pi sorority. And the ladies were WITHOUT any boyfriends! Boy, did I time this trip wrong -- by about 20 years.

It wasn't a small group of sorority sisters, either. It looked like the entire house was there -- about 50 young Auburn women. Considering the butterfly center is kept at a constant 84 degrees with 74-percent humidity, it's a wonder the steamy situation didn't get me in big trouble.

(As I told a man standing near the entrance of the butterfly center: "As a single guy, I got twice the beauty for my admission price." He understood completely....)

The Q-T - oops - A-D-Pi's made it a full day at Callaway, just as I did. Some of the ladies rented bicycles, to tour the Garden's trails. I should have done the same thing, and started a little "team pursuit." (Ahem....)

It was nice to see diversity among the women of Alpha Delta Pi. There were both blondes and brunettes, both thin models and larger-sized ladies. But then again, the only "color" I noticed in the group was in their T-shirts.

(Oops - I'm out of time. I'll share more of my Callaway trip on Tuesday.)

To comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

Sunday, August 24, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



Oh, dear - I'm afraid my Pastor had a "senior moment" this weekend. He came to me after church and said he'd again heard a song he suggested I sing awhile back, and wanted me to do it. Trouble is, I DID that song during a service in June -- with the Pastor present! Maybe I should buy him a P-D-A, to help with these things.

In a way, I can see where the Pastor might be confused. I tend to sing solos at church more often than the other two soloists. And as reserved as our congregation can be, sometimes it sounds like I'm soloing every week.

As you might guess, the hot topic at church this weekend was the Ten Commandments monument controversy. My Pastor said God looked on Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, and was impressed by a man standing up for Him. But for some reason, the Pastor didn't ask any of us to go to Montgomery and do the same thing.

As of this evening, the Ten Commandments monument was still inside the Alabama Judicial Building. Dozens of people remained outside, promising to block its removal. But that monument weighs more than two tons - so they might wind up crushed by the very law they're defending.

But I digress: as I drove home from church, which motel did I see on Warm Springs Road with this sign outside: "CHEK OUR RATS" ?!?!

(Those seniors at Columbus State University can be SUCH jokers....)

BLOG UPDATE: The long wait ended this afternoon for patrons of the Sports Page. The sports bar on Veterans Parkway finally reopened, several months after a damaging fire. But talk about lousy timing -- there was no Sunday football game, and not even a NASCAR race.

The Sports Page advertised an August 2 reopening, after the spring fire - but it happened more than three weeks later. I'm not sure what went wrong. Maybe the staff debated whether or not to rebuild the karaoke section.

Wet weather has delayed several Columbus construction projects this summer. For instance, a combined KFC-A&W restaurant on Manchester Expressway was supposed to open August 5. Now it's posting a September opening date -- and who know how many tanks of flat root beer are now in our sewer system.

COMING MONDAY: My version of a garden party.... complete with plenty of good-looking women....

Saturday, August 23, 2003




As I waited in the drive-through lane Friday morning at a Burger King on Wynnton Road, I saw a man doing something unusual. He had a chemical container with a spray tube attached - but instead of spraying the landscaping, he sprayed the driveway. I thought he was waiting for the right moment to spray my windshield, to get a fast tip.

The man walked around the cars in the drive-through lane, spraying the concrete in that lane. My second theory was that he somehow thought cars would grow if you treated their tires.

There was some sort of chemical scent from what the man was doing, so eventually I leaned out the window and asked him, "What are you spraying?" He mumbled an answer I couldn't understand - so maybe he was tired, and thought it WAS the landscaping.

The woman at the Burger King pay window admitted she wasn't sure what the man was spraying - but at the food-pickup window, another woman offered an explanation. "He's spraying down the driveway," she said. Maybe this will keep weeds
from growing in the drive-through lane - though I imagine long lines of cars every day would crush them, anyway.

I suppose this Burger King man is what the local franchise calls a "sanitor." I saw a help-wanted sign for that position a couple of years ago, and it puzzled me....

+ Is a "sanitor" a Senator who's clean of fraud?

+ Is a "sanitor" someone who works at a sanitarium?

+ If you go crazy working at Burger King, do you become an IN-sanitor?

To be fair, there are several drive-through lanes in Columbus which could benefit from regular treatment like what Burger King does. The Krystal's near 14th and Veterans Parkway comes to mind. Sometimes it has so many potholes that it seems to be used late at night for mud run practice.

As I drove home from Burger King with a steak biscuit, I passed another curious worker - a jail inmate driving a lawn mower right down Veteran's Parkway, during morning drive time! There ARE better, faster ways for prisoners to attempt an escape.

You may not release jail inmates do landscaping work for the city of Columbus - mowing the lawns along the Riverwalk, and around the Historic District. That'll teach them to sing behind bars about the "Green, Green Grass of Home."

But the question remains: why was an inmate driving a lawn mower on the STREET - especially on Veterans Parkway, around Seventh Street? Doesn't he realize that's dangerous? Doesn't he realize the new barbecue restaurant on Veterans isn't open for breakfast?

Friday, August 22, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views
are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



Without my asking for it or expecting it, a shock came in my mailbox Thursday afternoon - a 216-page "Gifts of Christmas" catalog. Christmas? Already?!?! Can't we even play a college football game first?

The Christmas catalog came from "The Lakeside Collection" in suburban Chicago. I never heard of this company before, and I'm not sure how I got on its mailing list. At least some of the spam companies send you a warning e-mail first.

I used to marvel at the big department stories in downtown Atlanta putting up Xmas decorations one week after Labor Day. Now the catalogs are coming 11 days BEFORE Labor Day. Perhaps it's because the big labor unions don't have enough clout to stage a protest strike over this.

The Lakeside Collection catalog offers a wide range of gift ideas -- from porcelain dolls to glowing reindeer. But one page offers a big surprise: "Ass Kickin'™ Snack and Sauce Sets!" Which member of Fort Benning's Third Brigade came up with a name like this?

Some of the gifts in this catalog struck me as a bit silly:

+ A children's "Electronic ATM Savings Bank." C'mon now - how many ATM's are left which accept deposits?

+ A "powered ride-on motorcycle" apparently made for children. It has a real headlight, taillights, and even an accelerator pedal which "really works." The troubling part is, the description never mentions the word "brake."

+ A set of NASCAR bobble-head dolls. For some reason, it doesn't have Jimmy Spencer with a bouncing fist.

+ Fleece NFL sweatshirts - with your choice of only FIVE teams. Apparently Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay was left out because.... it's warm in Florida?!

+ Pairs of "SpongeBob SquarePants" slippers. Should I assume they don't keep the water off your feet?

+ A "Bread Dipping Set" for $8.95 - with four saucers, a cruet and a shaker holding four different kinds of spices. So apparently people AREN'T soaking the crust off dirty dishes.

BLOG UPDATE: The Ten Commandments monument in Montgomery was surrounded with plywood for awhile Thursday - and supporters compared it to the "Berlin Wall." Now I think the protests have gone too far. The Commandments are still free -- or at least available at one-dollar stores.

Eight justices on the Alabama Supreme Court outvoted Chief Justice Roy Moore, and said the Ten Commandments monument has to leave the State Judicial Building. To which most Alabamians said - "There are eight other justices?"

The local TV news raised a good point Thursday night: why don't most churches display the Ten Commandments? Some of them seem more enthusiastic about displaying the weekly offering amount....

The church I used to attend had a national fundraising project about ten years ago, selling Ten Commandments plaques. Within a year of that promotion, the man in charge of the church effectively declared the Commandments obsolete for modern Christians. For some reason, I was the only one to suggest we offer plaque purchasers their money back.

Thursday, August 21, 2003




At least 20 people were arrested for trespassing Wednesday, as they tried to prevent the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building. It was strange to see, in a way - because the protesters were preventing part of the "Word of God" from going out into the world.

(How disappointed must those protesters be - because God didn't strike down the arresting officers on the spot.)

Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor announced he would uphold a federal court order, and make sure the Ten Commandments monument is removed. And of course, Mr. Pryor doesn't have to worry about the voters removing HIM - since Senate Democrats will hear this, end their filibuster and confirm him to the federal appeals court.

(It had to disappoint Republican lawyers - to see the Attorney General engaging in some "Pryor restraint.")

Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition said authorities would need a forklift to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building. The good news for supporters is that plenty of Montgomery churches are nearby, ready to take it in.

Some members of the Christian Defense Coalition planned a "kneel-down" protest - first around the Ten Commandments monument, then around the judicial building. As they did this, I hope they read the second commandment carefully. That's the one about bowing down to graven images.

A man from Valley said he staged his own demonstration for the Ten Commandments monument - by riding a horse all the way to Washington! He also unwittingly showed skeptics how backwards the state of Alabama appears to be.

Earlier in the day, Chief Justice Roy Moore told ABC's "Good Morning America" the federal judge issuing rulings against the Ten Commandments monument is a bit hypocritical. He noted outside Myron Thompson's courthouse, there's a statue of a Greek goddess! But of course, there's a big difference - Thompson already locked that goddess outside the building.

The state of Alabama risked $5,000 daily fines from a federal judge, if the Ten Commandments monument was not removed by midnight. The blame for this goes not on Chief Justice Roy Moore, but Governor Bob Riley - because if his tax vote was scheduled sooner, the state could pay for this.

Speaking of money, I was thankful Wednesday afternoon to find one of the last gas stations in Columbus with prices below $1.40 a gallon. I'm starting to think the "Summit" at 22nd Avenue and Victory Drive should be renamed the "Valley."

I thanked the man behind the counter at Summit for keeping the gas price so low. He revealed he'd just gotten off the phone with a manager, who says prices likely will go up Thursday morning. What's the matter? Don't they WANT a big crowd of customers?

The strange thing was that Summit had NO lines of cars filling up -- even though its gas price was at least seven cents below the big-name convenience stores around it. Do other drivers know something I don't know? Is this business run by a bunch of people from France?

Checking some other sites we've seen around town lately....

+ Yesteryear's antique shop on 11th Street posted a sign for a three-day sale: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But with a name like Yesteryear's, has this sale happened already - maybe 20 years ago?

+ A car passed me on 10th Street with a Christian "fish" logo - only the word "Sheriff" was inside the fish. Does this mean Sheriff Ralph Johnson is a Christian -- or he goes fishing on weekends?

+ Posters promoting a concert by the Latin group "Mandingo" promised it would include announcers from Ritmo Latino Radio. But instead of using the Spanish ord "locutores," it was misspelled "LOCO-tores" - as in crazy. [True] The two loud announcers on Friday night who never seem to shut up would fit that description....

Wednesday, August 20, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views
are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



After your Tuesday blog was posted, I walked up the street to the Government Center - and counted at least three cats sprawled on the First Avenue sidewalk, one of them stretching on its back. After working all night, it was so tempting to get down there and join it.

But no, I had to plod on. The District Attorney's office had subpoenaed me to appear in an aggravated assault case, and I had to do my civic duty. Admittedly, I didn't want to do too much of a civic duty - so I didn't drive my Honda Civic to the Government Center, and risk a parking ticket.

I had only a vague idea about what this aggravated assault case involved. Defendant Derrick McKenzie wasn't a familiar name, from work or church. In fact, I mistakenly thought McKenzie had issued the subpoenas to my entire apartment complex - so he could stand up in court and curse us all out together.

This was my first trip to the courtroom section of the Government Center, and it wasn't quite what I expected. For one thing, the seventh-floor courtroom of Judge John Allen has theater-style seats for spectators. So when will he take the next step - by adding cup holders, and allowing drinks?

You may be disappointed to learn Judge John Allen's courtroom still does not have an updated Georgia state flag. It still has the 2001 "six flags over Georgia" design - the one that will be an e-Bay collectible by the end of the decade.

While we were in Judge John Allen's courtroom, Judge Douglas Pullen presided over Tuesday's docket. He was confused for a moment, as to whether he had a "back-up judge" for some cases. A back-up judge?! Judge Judy never seems to worry about this....

The docket on Tuesday had 12 cases - and wouldn't you know, Derrick McKenzie was number-eight on the list. I knew I should have guzzled down one more can of caffeinated diet cola before going up the elevator.

Several of the 12 cases quickly were settled with guilty pleas. Suspects were brought into court in the others - suspects Judge Doug Pullen called with a Southern accent "defend-ANTS." Does he really consider them THAT low a life form?

Timothy Riley was first before the judge. In a plea bargain, he admitted guilt to three of five burglary counts from 2000. The cases were traced to Riley only after he left prison on different charges last year. Not only does the law have a "long arm," it can have a long memory.

The prosecutor pointed out this was Timothy Riley's SIXTH conviction on burglary charges. Yet the state accepted a plea bargain, which will put him in prison for only seven years of a 20-year sentence. Maybe if they built more prisons in neighborhoods where well-paid lawyers live, this might change.

Timothy Riley's burglaries involved stealing self-propelled lawn mowers, then pawning them for money. So we can't really call him a "pusher" - since he didn't push the mowers on lawns to make a living.

The next burglary case was a bit stranger. Steven Welsh pleaded guilty to stealing a DVD player and $300 from a mobile home - yet he told the court he was high on drugs when he confessed the crime to police detectives. He had the right to remain silent, but he lacked a right mind to shut up.

Steven Welsh will serve 15 years for burglary - but perhaps he learned a different lesson. As he said in court, "Once you confess, it's too late." Welllll - maybe for Catholic priests, but not for the worshipers at large.

A prosecutor claimed Steven Welsh "took off like a jackrabbit" when police showed up to investigate the DVD theft -- but Welsh learned "you couldn't outrun the radio." Liberal critics of Rush Limbaugh have learned this lesson the hard way.

After those two cases, Judge Pullen took a 15-minute recess - and prosecutor Roger Anderson asked all the witnesses in the Derrick McKenzie case to go out into the hallway for a minute. There was one other man, besides myself. Where was everyone else in my apartment complex -- helping the defendant look for the real attacker?

Roger Anderson confirmed what I thought this case was: an attack in an apartment near mine last summer. Derrick McKenzie stands accused of wounding a resident. But that resident was in surgery Tuesday, because Anderson said "his blood sugar was up." That meant no trial, no testimony - and for me, no reason to stay up two extra hours.

Prosecutor Roger Anderson admitted one problem with the trial schedule is that "so many judges are filling in for other judges." Whom do we blame for this problem in August? Congress? President Bush? The TV networks, with so many reruns?

We found out Tuesday night the ailing resident is NOT out of the hospital, so the trial will be postponed until September -- and without me. As Roger Anderson said before I even explained my side of the story, "You don't know what happened there!" It sounded like a semi-polite way of saying I'm a double idiot - one for not knowing the facts, two for answering the subpoena.

My services no longer needed for the day, I took the elevator down to the Government Center's ground level to walk home. The time was 10:15 a.m. The Center's cafeteria ended breakfast service at 10:00, and didn't start lunch service until 11:00. Once more I was "standing in the gap," and it didn't feel good.

LAUGHLINE FLASHBACK: We first wrote about the apartment complex shooting when it happened a year ago. Here's some of what appeared in the LaughLine issue of 16 Aug 02:

The complex housing LaughLine World Headquarters was the scene of a shooting Thursday night. We never knew there was a problem until an ambulance backed up across the courtyard, to the door where it happened. To revise an old phrase: red lights at night - sometimes a fright....

A man walked into the ambulance, holding what looked like a breathing device to his mouth. We presumed it was simply a medical emergency -- but minutes later, a police detective knocked on our door and asked if we'd seen or heard anything. Trouble was, the last unusual thing we'd seen was a TV clip of "The Anna Nicole Show."

(The injured man was what police politely would call "heavy-set." His waist was big enough to make you wonder why Japan is the only country with sumo wrestling tournaments.)

We informed the police detective we'd seen nothing, but DID recall hearing a couple of pops earlier in the evening. We figured the noise might have been fireworks -- because our neighborhood is much too lowbrow to be opening champagne bottles.

Police later told a local TV station the man may have been shot during a "home invasion." If so, this may be the quietest invasion ever. We heard no screaming, no banging on the door - why, they were more polite than our next-door neighbor needing a loan until payday.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003




I found out Monday afternoon how much I must pay to use a traditional gospel song on my upcoming CD. The standard "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" will cost $150! Aw, c'mon - I DO tithe, really....

You may not realize many church singers these days use accompaniment tracks for their songs. I guess it's because good pianists are becoming hard to find -- so suddenly, that new GPTV fund-raising show on learning to play piano doesn't seem that weird.

I've used a cassette background tape to sing "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" in church - but live performance is one thing, and using a track for a recording is something else. Isn't that strange? The track-makers actually are optimistic my album will do well -- so they want a cut up front.

A record company in North Carolina offered to "lease" me a CD master of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee." I'd already paid about seven bucks for a cassette - which again proves buying is always a better deal than leasing.

The record company is sending me a form to fill out, regarding using their track on my album. I'm to send it back with either a check for $150 or a credit card number. That will ease the blow a little, since the rebate plan with my credit card will put me in line for a $20 gas card -- enough for one tank, if I hurry.

I had a choice between three accompaniment tracks for the CD. One would have cost me $50, the second about $110. I chose the oldest, most traditional song of the three - and wouldn't you know, it has the highest licensing fee! Why doesn't the auto market work this way?

At least the track of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" is in a "Southern gospel" style. That means I may be able to get it played on WMLF-AM, Monday through Friday. And if the album sells, I'll add a salsa beat to it for Ritmo Latino Radio on weekends.

On a happier note, I stopped by the recording studio Monday afternoon - and went through the process of picking a design for the CD. There are so many possibilities, you almost wonder why NBC didn't have a "Today Plans an Album" promotion for its talent search.

The assistant at the recording studio recommended I use a typeset style called Trebuchet, which looks like this.The assistant kept calling it "Tree-Bucket" - explaining she's still staging a protest, against even sounding French. [True!]

I'm daring to put my address on the CD's. It either was that or display my phone number, thus risking crank callers - or putting an e-mail address, and doubling my daily amount of spam.

Once the permission form is filled out and I choose a design for an album cover, I'll be able to give you a launch date for the CD. At this point, I'm marketing the album myself - so M.C. Hammer's buddies don't grab hold of my bank account and drain IT dry, too.

But enough about me - let's see what's been happening around town:

+ Former Columbus Police Chief and Georgia Corrections Commissioner Jim Wetherington was named the new Headmaster at Calvary Christian School. If that doesn't solve all the discipline problems at that school, I don't know what will.

(I can hear the critics with long memories now - saying Jim Wetherington took this job, because he still feels guilty about his son torching Columbus High School in 1981.)

+ The Columbus Chamber of Commerce announced "Heckler and Koch" will open a firearms plant, employing at least 200 people. The timing of this announcement couldn't be much worse. They'd better not hand out job applications at Bianca Walton's funeral.

+ The Columbus Southern Open cancelled next year's "Champions Tour" golf tournament, because a "title sponsor" could not be found. There's an obvious question here, which no one's asking. How bad off financially is AFLAC that it can't afford this?

(Maybe Heckler and Koch can sponsor the tournament in 2005 - and every round will have a shotgun start.)

COMING WEDNESDAY: We go to court with subpoena in hand.... we'll see what happens....

Sunday, August 17, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



The church I usually attend cancelled services this weekend, for an unusual reason. The lodge where we meet was having its parking lot paved. So don't blame my pastor - it's not his as-fault.

We could have rented another place for the weekend, but the pastor was on vacation for the week. He suggested we all keep "a quiet Sabbath at home," not even mentioning you could worship at other denominations. They do something or other wrong, after all - so they're sinners.

Call me a rebel if you wish, but I decided to worship with another congregation. I visited "Columbus First Seventh-Day Adventist Church." Before you ask, I checked the phone book -- and there is NOT a "Seventh First-Day Adventist Church."

This SDA Church is the one that put up a fight with Walgreen's and City Hall a couple of years ago, over its old property on Macon Road. The drug store chain won - and sadly, doesn't even rest there on Sundays now.

For about the last year, Columbus First SDA has been sharing the building of St. John United Methodist Church at Moon and Weems Roads. I could tell right away it's a tenuous relationship - because the Adventists hide the United Methodist hymnals, and use their own.

The Adventist bulletin said "church at study" would begin at 9:20 a.m. -- but it really started around 9:30, and with only about 15 people in the sanctuary. Many people in this church take the phrase "Sabbath rest" seriously.

We sang a few songs without a pianist, then heard a deacon's wife read a chapter from a book by a deceased SDA Pastor. This church is NOT high-tech enough, though, to let us rate the book one-to-four stars on the spot.

Then it was time to divide into groups for "Sabbath School" - and I was in the "Enquirer's Class" for adults. How disappointed I was when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez's names never came up.

I quickly stood out in the Enquirer's Class, because I tried out a line from a song I wrote the evening before about the power blackout (see lyrics below). The Local Elder conducting the class was unimpressed by my comment that the power stayed on around the Ten Commandments monument in Montgomery. He apparently doesn't think there's much fun in "fundamentalism."

(DISCLAIMER: We're getting into religion for the next few jokes here. If that offends you, scroll down about three sentences for the "secular" jokes to resume.)

Our topic in Enquirer's Class happened to be the covenants of the Bible - and the Local Elder admitted: "I have a problem with those commandments down at the courthouse." From the way things unfolded, he apparently prefers to see a picture of
Adventist founder Ellen G. White there.

One member of this Sabbath School class said the law should be in our hearts today, not on tables of stone. Another dismissed the monument in Montgomery as showing a "Catholic theology" version of the Ten Commandments, instead of what's in Exodus 20. So what were all the Protestants doing there, holding a demonstration FOR it?

After a good Bible-based discussion that went over time, we moved back into the sanctuary for the main worship service with about 100 people. But I knew I was in for trouble when I saw the closing song in the bulletin: "When We All Get to Heaven." The Adventists apparently never have noticed John 3:13 in the Bible - which says no man's ascended up there but Jesus.

The service included a children's story, based on giving a dog a bath. For a minute, I thought the teacher was going to offer a new approach to water baptism.

When the children's story ends, the youngsters wander around the sanctuary collecting a "lamb's offering" from worshipers in little baskets. This is a clever idea - to make sure nobody throws change in the main offering plate instead.

When the sermon finally came, it was an absolute strikeout. I kept score, and the Pastor quoted Adventist founder Ellen G. White 13 times compared with three times for the Bible. The last time I heard a minister quote another book so much in a sermon, he wound up declaring himself an end-time prophet.

The big issue for Columbus First SDA at the moment is finalizing a deal to build a new church of its own. A decision could come in the next ten days -- and I've obtained data indicating the project could cost $1.5 million. I assume this group will NOT sing the song, "That Old Country Church" anymore.

I spotted a fairly attractive woman in the Enquirer's Class with NO ring on her finger - then noticed during the service she sat with two children and no husband. But no, I did NOT introduce myself to her. You have to understand the Adventists usually don't wear jewelry -- and a couple married 39 years didn't even have on wedding rings.

It had been three years since I worshiped with the Adventists - and that was a "protest week." I stayed away from my usual congregation on purpose, after our pastor openly urged everyone to pray for George W. Bush to win the 2000 Presidential election. He never explained how the "burning bush" in Exodus proved this....

Only one member of First SDA Church remembered me from the fall of 2000 - a female song leader who noticed my voice. I told her about the CD I just recorded, and she invited to come sing "special music" some weekend. If I do this, I'll go to a twilight "vespers" service - so I won't get in trouble selling albums after sunset.

SONG OF THE DAY: It was interesting to hear people in Baghdad rejoice at the U.S.-Canadian power outage, calling it punishment from God. Methinks some U.S. religious folks might agree - and so came this song (melody available on request):

The lights stayed on in Montgomery, Alabama.

Around that monument in Alabama.

The lights stayed on in Montgomery, Alabama,

But they went off in New York!

God loves Roy Moore and the Ten Commandments.

That Chief Justice who posted the Commandments.

God loves Roy Moore and the Ten Commandments,

While Ontario's judges are jerks.

If you follow the laws of God,

A light to the world you'll be.

But if you disobey what God says,

You'll be in darkness eventually.

So God kept the lights on, down in Alabama.

Around that monument in Alabama.

God kept the lights on in Montgomery, AlabamAAAA....

Let the Northeastern liberals whine and cry.

Camping out one night doesn't mean you're gonna die.

You'll see God caused the blackout by and by

To let Judge Roy's light shine Moore.

Oh, what's that you're saying about my new song? You say the lights stayed on in Washington - where the U.S. Supreme Court made the sodomy ruling? You say they stayed on St. Louis and Tennessee, the areas Democrats Richard Gephardt and Al Gore call home? Now, PLEASE don't confuse me with facts like that. I want fundamentalists to eat this song up....

To comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, August 16, 2003




The journalist in me came out tonight, and I fear it ruined the evening of a woman at a Wendy's restaurant. She dared to ask the three words you never ask a Christian trying not to lie - "How are you?"

"I was happy and doing fine, until I got in the car to drive over here," I told the woman at Wendy's.

"What happened?" she asked.

"I found out Michael Vick broke his leg."

"He did WHAT?????" The woman was shocked - SHOCKED! It was probably the biggest blow she's faced since Kobe Bryant confessed to adultery.

The Falcons' pre-season game obviously was not on TV or radio at this Wendy's, so I was presenting -- uh, should I call it this -- breaking news.

"I LOVE Michael Vick," the woman at Wendy's told me. "How did it happen?" I hadn't heard the Falcon radio team explain it - so I wasn't sure if it happened during the game, or if he tripped over all the photographers who seem to watch his every move.

"And I was going to go see Vick play, too," the woman said disappointedly. This I could understand. About the only people who would pay to see Falcons backup quarterback Doug Johnson play are Florida fans -- and only if they were in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.

A man working with the woman at Wendy's tried to cheer her up. "They've still got one good quarterback. They've got all those big-money players." Oh, yeah - big-money players. They've worked so well for the New York Mets this season.

"Let's face it," I told the man, "the Falcons are only as good as Michael Vick's health." Besides, the number of big-money players you can sign goes down when your top-selling uniform in clothing stores is injured.

The man at Wendy's remained undaunted. "Doug Johnson can do the job," he said. He HAS to at quarterback now -- or else the Falcons will have to wait for the Packers to cut Akili Smith.

Having ruined the atmosphere at one business, I drove on to Walgreen's in Phenix City - where thankfully no one asked how I was doing. I hurried there to take advantage of a two-for-a-dollar coupon for Vanilla Pepsi. It seems to have more vanilla taste to it than Vanilla Coke - but I don't have any vanilla ice cream for a real comparison.

A young couple was in front of me at Walgreen's - and I saw a classic example of feminine psychology. As the woman stood in line, she told her man nearby, "You don't need any candy."

The man heeded her, and joined her in line - whereupon she said, "Do they still have any almond crunch bars?" The man went back to where he'd just been to get one, as the woman looked up from her purse with a big smile on her face.

(I think that woman knew I'd witnessed the whole scene. As football coach Hank Stram once said, "Like taking candy from a baby, boys....")

COMING SUNDAY: Where I went to worship, because the usual place was closed.... and a new song about Justice Roy Moore AND the Northeast power blackout

Friday, August 15, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



The producer of my CD recording session happened to be a pianist at Thursday night's "grand opening" at Miriam's on 13th Street. He invited me to go, so I did - figuring if nobody knew my name, they'd know his and let me in.

I was puzzled by the producer using the words "grand opening" with Miriam's. After all, Miriam Tidwell has had a café on 13th Street for years. For all I knew, she could have been opening a drive-through lane.

It turns out Miriam's is opening something new, on an upstairs level next to her main restaurant. It's "Miriam's Tapas at the Village." What a shame Gregory Hines couldn't live a few more days, to see this....

But seriously: a "tapa" is defined by Miriam's literature as a "small savory Spanish dish." Ohhhhh. I thought that referred to that good-looking young woman reading the news in Spanish on TV-16.

Some of the workers at Miriam's wore T-shirts at the grand opening, taking pains to point out it's tapas - "NOT TOPLESS!" Aw, c'mon! Why can't she open a restaurant on Victory Drive?

I never saw the producer/pianist at the grand opening - but on the balcony at Miriam's Tapas at the Village, I spotted a man playing saxophone to taped jazz music. What do you call this, "sax-aoke?"

(Perhaps for this occasion, he decided to play with a tape-a.)

It was also a delight to see Riley Yielding making music outside at the grand opening. On one song, he played both the guitar and harmonica. If Yielding had been in New York Thursday night, he could have made a fortune performing on blacked-out Broadway.

Perhaps the most jarring thing about the Miriam's grand opening was the sight of a pack of Basic cigarettes on an outdoor table. After all, Miriam's is a leader in the drive for smoke-free restaurants in Columbus. What barbecue places would do if this became a citywide law, I have no idea....

We schmoozed at Miriam's on chicken strips and wings - only the strips had no mustard or other sauce. Maybe they were beer-battered, and I was supposed to dunk them in a beer cup.

Miriam's also had a table where you could sign up for gift baskets - by using a "Tidwell Cancer Treatment Center" pen.
Somehow, I had not connected Miriam Tidwell with this center before. She's been so much more vocal about Fort Benning, I expected government-issue army pens instead.

Don't forget you can rent a room at Miriam's for your party or special event - BUT at a price. Miriam's Tapas at the Village requires a $500 minimum commitment for food and beverages. So it's perfect for SOA Watch protesters, ending a weekend fast.

So what's all this stuff about "the Village?" A row of businesses including Miriam's on 13th Street is getting a fancy new look and image - only parking for the complex isn't paved yet. We've had so much rain this summer that construction crews may have to resort to hair dryers to get finished.

COMING SOON: Another scenic Sunday drive.... Where will we go this time?

Thursday, August 14, 2003




Wednesday was a potentially historic day for me, as I went into a studio downtown to record an album. Before you get confused - no, I did NOT bring a studio audience with me to laugh at my jokes.

I recorded an album of Christian music, during a three-hour dinnertime session. Several people have urged me to do this for some time, after hearing me sing in church. Hopefully, they did NOT say this because they think my singing is funnier than my humor.

One big surprise at the recording session was how music studios make digital master tapes these days. They pull out "Super-VHS" tapes -- the kind TV news photographers used to use. Well, this WOULD make it easier to produce a music video.

The studio producer explained Super-VHS tapes are used for "eight-track digital" recordings. Eight-track? VHS?? And the man even had old-style reels of audio tape on a corner of his desk. [True!]

To be honest, the producer was a pro - and DOES have computer technology for mixing tracks and combining them for a compact disc. But no, I did NOT see any traces of Napster or KaZaA on his computer.

The studio's "three-hour package deal" provides studio time and ten compact discs of my music for $200. Time will tell whether my CD's are a better investment than the bank's.

I tried out a test CD of my album on a couple of co-workers, and they seemed to like it. But I tend to be a perfectionist about music - and when I hear one questionable note, visions of New York Times music critic columns dance in my head.

Yes, I plan to sell this album of Christian songs. (Details will be coming soon on this blog.) If it takes off, I might have a budding new music career. If it doesn't - well, how far CAN you throw a compact disc like a frisbee?

THIS JUST IN! As I write this, New York and several other major cities in the Northeast are without power - and reporters are using cell phones to provide updates. So many people are asking, "Can you hear me now?" that Verizon Wireless ought to sue for copyright infringement.

BLOG UPDATE: A Spectrum billboard on Veterans Parkway downtown suddenly looks very different. The names and prices of cigarettes have been whitewashed! [1 Aug] Apparently the Georgia Attorney General's office staged a stick-up at "Tobacco Junction," with paint rollers.

COMING THIS WEEKEND: A "grand opening" at a Columbus restaurant that I thought was open for years....

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy
that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views
are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



A cable company based in West Point ended days of online rumors Tuesday, by telling me it has NOT removed the Bravo cable channel. This was a case where "Knology" only had the knowledge - but didn't spread it through computer technology.

A competing local blog started the Bravo buzz last week, by noting it was no longer on Knology cable channel 76 in Columbus. Instead, the Inspirational Network was there. Given the fact that Bravo's been showing programs with "Queer Eye" and "Boy Meets Boy" in their names, some of us considered it a major upgrade.

I read that other blog's first report, and wondered if Knology was removing Bravo from systems across the South. So I put a vague question about it on a TV news message board, to see if anyone else knew details. No one confirmed or denied the report - but I fear I unwittingly fed a few people's stereotypes.

Knology spokesman Taylor Nippert informed me Tuesday Bravo and "INSP" actually SHARED channel 76 in Columbus. He says Bravo now has a 24-hour spot all to itself, at channel 60. Once the Inspirational Network learns this, leaders will offer to wash cable boxes clean of all sins.

(To be fair: that other blog has posted a correction - after happening to find Bravo on Knology channel 60. If there's a lesson here, perhaps it pays for women to change remote channels as often as men do.)

Knology's Taylor Nippert assured me Bravo will stay on ALL its cable systems, in several southern states. That may settle the censorship rumors - but it may invite picket lines by angry Baptists.

The rumor about Bravo sounded credible on the surface. After all, Knology's cable systems are in the Bible Belt - and Bravo's been showing a great deal of what some might call "gay-friendly" programming. But then again, Knology would have to black out several hours of NBC and CBS shows as well....

What I fear is that Bravo's hit summer show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" will spawn all sorts of similar reality programs:

+ Homosexual men open a restaurant - on "Queer Eyes on the Fruit Pies."

+ The new Episcopal Bishop-elect of New Hampshire will have a show - "God's Eye on the Queer Guy."

+ Preachers persuade single homosexual men to go straight - on "Trading Chases."

Now for some absolutely factual things (at least the News Media say they were) from the Tuesday news:

+ Hamilton's City Council voted to annex more than 500 acres for a new housing development - on ONE-acre lots, instead of two. Compared to the rest of Harris County, Hamilton's turning into a ghetto.

+ Smith Station's City Council approved a new six-cent per-pack tax on cigarettes. This is great news for the fireworks stands outside town. They finally can diversify, and stay open year-round.

+ Auburn was awarded the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series for 2005. Teams from Texas to Virginia will come to our area to.... hey, wait a minute! Texas to Virginia?! Here we go again - people trying to turn the South into the entire world.

(One report said since Auburn's hosted regional Dixie Youth Baseball tournaments, organizers "know what it should look like." It sounds like sales of Confederate flags in Lee County are about to soar.)

COMING THURSDAY: We head into the studio, loaded with music.... (this may not be posted until late in the day)

Tuesday, August 12, 2003



12 AUG 03: A 49-DAY TIME OUT

The Muscogee County school sales tax question was postponed Monday - but a whole new question was raised. Why do opponents of a September 16 vote say they'll support the vote on November 4? Does a one-cent sales tax need seven weeks to age properly?

Doesn't the school board realize what a bad example this delay sets for Muscogee County students? Now they'll all want seven extra weeks to finish their homework.

Pastor J.H. Flakes read a statement at a school board workshop, saying his group will support a one-cent sales tax vote in November. Doesn't he realize the wrong message this could send? We all know it's a wrong stereotype to claim African-American people move slower.

The main objection of the "Citizens for Good Government" was that school projects remain unfinished from the last one-cent sales tax. If those projects took five years, it seems a bit optimistic to think they're going to get finished in seven more weeks.

On the other hand, Muscogee County Superintendent Dr. John Phillips suggested two weeks ago there was no reason to delay a sales tax vote. Apparently over the weekend, he discovered one - bad poll numbers.

(There's an easy way, you know, for the Muscogee County Schools to raise fast money. But given who the current superintendent is, changing names of stadiums and gyms to "Papa John's" probably would send a wrong message.)

It was the Ledger-Enquirer which first seemed to call for a delay in the school sales tax vote. The lesson here seems to be that if you're ahead, drive forward to victory - but if you're behind, stall and delay and call time out.

The seven extra weeks from September to November apparently will be used to sort out which school projects will take top priority, under a new one-cent sales tax. Maybe if something on the north side of Columbus was named the "Nathan Suber wing...."

One problem with a seven-week delay in the sales tax vote is that it'll cost Muscogee County about $13,000 - because ballots for September 16th already were printed. Does liquid paper to correct dates cost THAT much nowadays?

Eight different workshops on the sales tax question still are scheduled for tonight, across the Muscogee County School District. Maybe taxpayers should follow the lead of the board - and not ask any questions until October.

Meanwhile, a Muscogee County Deputy Sheriff came to my door Monday night with a subpoena. And amazingly, it doesn't involve anyone I've mentioned in this blog....

The subpoena instructs me to report to Superior Court next Monday morning, in the case of Derrick McKenzie -- who's accused of charges ranging from burglary to aggravated assault. Can I add the count of aggravating my sleep schedule, to have me appear there on a Monday Morning?

The Deputy told me subpoenas are being presented to everyone in my apartment complex. So I suppose the entire complex will be there -- and even more back windows could be broken.

UPCOMING THIS WEEK: A "three-hour tour" which could change my life....

To comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 11, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for some six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



Before we begin, a prelude: Today's blog items are dedicated to Abel Dimant - a former co-worker at CNN Center, who I learned over the weekend had died in Los Angeles. He was a true professional journalist at "CNN Spanish." And he proved you don't have to be as hunky-looking as Jorge Ramos to do that sort of job.

Now to our topic: All I'd planned to do was drive to the Bradley library. Yet as I walked to my car around 4:15 p.m. Sunday, I saw a man standing across the road and pointing far away. For all I knew, he might have been recovering from the first Falcons pre-season game Saturday night -- and calling a first down.

It took him a couple of times to explain himself, but the 60-something-looking man wanted a ride "across the bridge" to a truck stop in Phenix City. I agreed to give him that short ride, since I try to play by the Domino's Pizza rule. I drive carrying less than 20 dollars.

The man said his name and offered me a handshake as he got in the car, but I didn't pay attention. I was all business. "Buckle your seat belt, sir. It's Georgia law." The faster we got going, the less likely others might come out from the bushes and try to form a mini-bus.

The man carried only a sealable plastic bag, with what appeared to be a change of clothes. The way the man smelled, he must have been holding that bag for a couple of weeks without opening it.

As we headed down Fifth Street, on an around-the-block course to the Oglethorpe Bridge, the man asked: "Are you a police officer or an insurance salesman?"

Uh-oh. This sounded familiar - TOO familiar, by three months to the very weekend. [12 May] So I quickly took control of the situation, remembering the last woman I gave a ride. "I'm neither a police officer nor an insurance salesman, and I haven't dated in a long time - and no, I'm not interested in sex."

The man seemed a bit baffled by this answer, so I explained: "The last person who said she needed a ride wound up wanting sex with me. So when you say you 'need a ride,' I'm assuming you mean a ride in a car, across a bridge to another
location." This seemed to satisfy the man - or perhaps convince him I was the crazier one in the car.

The man was quiet after that. We crossed the Oglethorpe Bridge, exited onto Highway 431, and went south to the Citgo truck stop on the right. But as we approached, he asked me to drive on a little farther - and I declined. Just because we're passing a "Waffle King" doesn't mean I have to act like one.

"You asked for a ride to the truck stop," I said as we turned into the parking lot, "and I believe people should say what they mean and mean what they say." Everything I know, I learned reading "Horton Hatches the Egg."

The man muttered a thank-you at the truck stop, got out and began walking away. Finally! A begging situation where I felt like I was in charge. The only leftover impact on my brain was airing out the passenger seat - and that probably took the entire time I was in the library.

Believe it or not, this was not the first person to ask me for a ride across the bridge to Phenix City. On a Saturday night in June about four years ago, a woman asked for such a trip - only to get in the car and say she really needed money to pay her babysitter. When will we learn that the first thing people say always is a lie? Such as, "Nice to see you...."

As a new year in Muscogee County schools begins today, I find myself asking if school bus drivers ever face what I've faced in recent months. Do parents ask for rides to work, if the job is on the same route as their children? Do the drivers carry change for a 20-dollar bill, if the adults get desperate?

Saturday, August 09, 2003




Didya hear the one about the new 24-hour information station, that Davis Broadcasting plans to start? It's called the Foxie News Channel....

But seriously: the latest Columbus radio ratings are out, and WFXE-FM/Foxie 105 dominates again. It has almost 20 percent of the radio audience! There's probably only one way to knock this station off the top spot - but we would never encourage any radicals to firebomb radio stations.

We especially wanted to check the ratings for AM radio stations, since several have made major changes. The numbers show WDAK is closer to WRCG than ever before - but still not ahead. Maybe people in Taylor County actually agreed with WRCG's Bill O'Reilly, about the prom.

After dropping local morning news and Clark Howard, WRCG's share of the radio audience dropped a bit in the spring, to 2.3. WDAK's share went up a bit, to 1.9. And who knows how many people threw up their hands in frustration, and actually bought a morning newspaper.

(I'll repeat what I wrote in LaughLine a couple of years ago - I think I know WDAK's ratings problems. People have trouble listening to right-wing talk show hosts at the left side of the radio dial.)

Only 18 months ago, WRCG was the number-six radio station in the Columbus ratings. Now the spring ratings reveal it's in a three-way tie for 14th. And if that's not scary enough, sports-talk host D.J. Jones needs a full-time job.

It's hard to tell if the change from WPNX-AM and "Southern gospel" music to WHAL-AM and "urban gospel" music in May made any difference. The station's numbers were steady, at 1.5 Perhaps if you can't see the singers, it doesn't matter to the listeners.

Jim Foster still is using "" as his Southern gospel web site, even though he's moved up the dial and the call letters have disappeared from the air. So Foster's not giving up on that "old time religion" - old as in 2002.

WEAM-FM made a good start at 100.7 FM, with a 2.3 rating. The old WMRZ-FM had a 1.0, playing traditional songs from years gone by. If you want "easy listening" music anymore, you have to sleep in a hotel lobby.

While it doesn't own the number-one station, Clear Channel radio has four of the top six spots in the radio ratings. But if you throw in WMLF's zero, Clear Channel also has three of the bottom four spots. [True!] We offer this as something to burst a bragging boss's ego....

Now for some other quick notes on an August weekend....

+ The Sonic restaurant on Wynnton Road threw a back-to-school dance party -- giving all the children one chance to show off illegal clothing they won't be allowed to wear to class come Monday.

+ Opelika's Dixie Boys baseball team returned home from winning the Babe Ruth World Series -- and received a police escort. Maybe Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers could learn a lesson from this....

+ The Atlanta Falcons opened their pre-season schedule -- and owner Arthur Blank gushed over how he wanted to sign Georgia wide receiver Terence Edwards as a free agent. Nobody bothered to ask Mr. Blank if he thought so much of Edwards, why the team didn't draft him in the first place.

Friday, August 08, 2003


I searched on the Internet months ago, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called LaughLine.Com, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views
are my own; no one has paid me to present theirs. Pressured, yes - but paid, no.



A week of stupidity for me reached a low point Thursday afternoon, as I went jogging downtown, without taking any keys. Lesson #1: there's no "I" in team - but there are "I's" in the words stupid and idiot.

I never realized I was keyless until the run was over, and I turned to re-enter my apartment complex. Then it hit me - the little bulge in my shorts pocket was the Kmart wristwatch, with a watchband weaker than some excuses for being on the school "needs improvement" list.

Thankfully, a woman was coming out of another apartment as I realized my plight. She agreed to let me use her phone and phone book to call a locksmith - before I had a flashback to the break-in at Apartment #2 earlier in the wee.

(A side point here about phone books: who at TransWestern Publishing decided to let its new phone book have a big picture of attorney Paul Parker on the cover? Putting a lawyer on the cover invites all sorts of doodling....)

A short time later, All-American Lock and Key came rolling up to the complex. The $24 rate advertised in the TransWestern yellow pages turned out to be $28, because it was after 5:00 p.m. Lesson #2: if you're going to be dumb, you'll save money being dumb during office hours.

The locksmith assured me when it comes to people locking themselves out of houses, "everybody does it." In fact, he admitted locking his keys in HIS van one time at Columbus State University. Considering he's a one-man company -- lesson #3: it pays to have relief help.

I added a tip to the locksmith's credit card bill, as a token of appreciation. Hopefully 10-percent doesn't make me a cheapskate, compared to restaurant staff....

What a week of stupidity I've had! I made mistakes in writing. Someone accused me of unfairly presenting one-sided news stories. Now I've locked myself out of my apartment - and all this within days of turning 45. Is it too early to reserve nursing home space?

BLOG UPDATE: Thursday's mail brought a "happy birthday" post card from a survey company. "Synovate" recently expressed its appreciation for my answering online questions - by mailing me a deck of playing cards. How do I squeeze them into the computer, to use at a game web site?

COMING THIS WEEKEND: The numbers are in, and some people really are smiling about them....

Thursday, August 07, 2003




The caller's name was James, and he was unhappy. He told me he checked into West Central Regional Hospital a week ago for suicidal tendencies, and "not a single doctor has seen me." Maybe they're waiting for a rodeo cowboy to show up and tie the man down first.

James claimed terrible things are going on at West Central Regional, which is a mental hospital. It was surprising to hear James say doctors don't care about him -- because I've heard other patients claim the doctors try to kill everybody.

On the day James called, he said he expected West Central to "ship him out" that day. If they did, he said he was going to get a weapon, go to some public place and "blow my brains out." Of course, if they shipped James off to some desert island, this would be more challenging....

To his credit, James promised to call the news media first before he blew his brains out in public. This would give all photographers an equal chance to sell video to the show "Stupid Behavior Caught on Tape."

As far as I know, James has not called back since making that original call Monday morning. Perhaps doctors ARE seeing him now - and they took away his cell phone.

Let's see what else struck my brain on Wednesday....

+ Rigdon Road Elementary School was placed on the state of Georgia's "needs improvement list" - only weeks after its principal received an award from the Congressional Black Caucus as a national "unsung hero." Sometimes there's a good reason why people are unsung....

+ The Mayor of Dawson won the biggest scratch-off prize in Georgia lottery history - $500,000! Police arrested the Mayor for DUI, and he won re-election. He's about to stand trial for corruption charges, and he's won half-a-million bucks. Maybe Terrell County's District Attorney should simply give up the case now.

+ Instant Message to Houlihan's Old Place: You're an Irish restaurant, right? So why does your billboard near the Civic Center seem to show four people in a conga line?

E-MAIL UPDATE: A big thank you to my brother, who sent a belated birthday "e-greeting" card Wednesday. You can come out of the animated jail cell in that greeting now....

(Hmmm -- so does that mean my brother reads this blog? Or did someone else in the family read it, and bring it to his attention?!)

It turns out none of my co-workers wished me a happy birthday on time this year, either. I learned a lesson from what one co-worker did when he turned 40. He kept telling the staff he didn't want anything special done - so they turned around and had a surprise party for him. I kept my mouth shut, and nothing special happened.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Those "numbers" we mentioned aren't ready yet. When they are, we'll pass them on....

To comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.

© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.