Wednesday, August 31, 2005


(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Today's entry has language which may offend some readers. It's in the E-mail Update section - but
we have several other hopefully G-rated jokes first.)

OK, I take some of it back. After seeing gas prices jump to record highs in Columbus Tuesday, I'm willing to admit New Orleans is an important oil city. But I don't think the Saints will do any better this season, playing their home games in Baton Rouge.

The lowest-priced gas stations in Columbus moved their prices to a record $2.69 a gallon for unleaded Tuesday. It jumped 25 cents in 24 hours - so could we please stop showing news reports, with experts talking the price even higher?

Evacuees from Hurricane Katrina simply are happy to drive anywhere that's dry, and dozens of them now are in Columbus. So please be gentle, if you come upon a car with a Louisiana license plate -- at least until Saturday. Then college football starts, and everything's different....

Hilton Terrace Baptist Church on Warm Springs Road became a shelter for hurricane survivors Tuesday. More than 100 people arrived, many of them from St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana. This must puzzle some church members, who wonder why counties are named after dogs.

Hilton Terrace Baptist Church was ready for children who fled Katrina. It has a table tennis table, and games such as "Twister" and.... hey, wait a minute. Do we really want to bring out Twister, after all the tornado warnings and damage?

Several Columbus businesses are donating items for the hurricane survivors. For instance, the "Crazy Chicken" restaurant provided them dinner Tuesday night. Uh-oh, what's next - Crazy Cecil's and the "Kick'n Chicken" providing alcohol?

Another 50 or so evacuees are staying at First Baptist Church in Opelika. This is one time when the group "Alabama Atheists" stands at a disadvantage. All they can offer is a small office, and literature leaving survivors to blame for everything that went wrong.

A New Orleans minister and his family fled to a Columbus motel. You almost wish that man was still in Louisiana - doing some street preaching, to stop those looters in the French Quarter.

Then there are the extra people inside the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Staff members from the Biloxi, Mississippi Sun-Herald have moved there, to publish daily newspapers. Given the price of gasoline to ship those papers, I won't be surprised if each edition costs three dollars.

Why did newspaper employees from Biloxi come all the way to Columbus? The official reason is that Knight-Ridder publishes the daily papers in both cities. But some of us can figure out the unofficial reason - the Biloxi staff can't find a place to gamble anywhere in Alabama.

If you want to help hurricane survivors, Mitzi Oxford with the American Red Cross says the two best ways are giving blood and donating cash. She probably would NOT recommend you combine the two, by showing up at an emergency room with a machete.

BLOG UPDATE: Elsewhere, the haggling over Russell County Courthouse space is becoming confusing. Now Probate Judge Al Howard says the County Commission offered him no place for an office - after first saying he was offered an office that's too small. Are they planning to expand the courthouse because it's shrinking?

Probate Judge Al Howard said Tuesday a proposed new work area for him won't work, because it's too open. He explained he needs doors closed for many of his meetings. You suspected all along he was a typical politician....

(Is Al Howard's budget THAT tight in Russell County? A couple of full-length hanging curtains at Wal-Mart for privacy shouldn't cost that much.)

But if Al Howard doesn't leave the current Probate Judge's office by the end of the week, the Russell County Commission threatens to obtain an injunction against him. Considering the man they're dealing with, every word of that injunction had better be exactly right.

One woman has started a petition drive to keep Probate Judge Al Howard in his current office space. Lucile Dixon said Tuesday at least 300 people have signed her petitions. Isn't this amazing? More people in our area may care about work space than recalling a controversial sheriff....

Lucile Dixon's petition claims Al Howard's office needs to stay where it is especially "for disabled citizens." So if Russell County obtains an injunction against the Probate Judge, could it be sued for violating federal disability law? Why not level that big hill outside the courthouse on 14th Street, while we're at it?

While this office tug-of-war drags on, new security equipment for the Russell County Courthouse sits unused. It can't be installed until the Probate Judge's office is vacated. This seems to prove at least one thing - Phenix City has no known terrorists.

E-MAIL UPDATE: We're still hearing from you about our stunning admission of 21 Aug:

Sounds like you're proud to be a virgin.........eek. At your age, maybe a little help from a clean whore would help; not a Columbus one tho. ATL would be your best bet. Try either Cheetah's or Pink Pony. They're pretty hot. Or for the adventurer in you, The World Famous Fannie's off of Fulton Industrial. I'm sure after all these years, God would look away for a bit. We're talking about the guy who created the platypus. He knows how to take a joke.


Sometimes you feel like a just gotta bust one

Why AR, I'm shocked - SHOCKED! - again. I thought you had to watch a Jennifer Lopez video to see a world-famous "fanny."

Am I proud to be a virgin? Naaah, I wouldn't put it that way. I made a statement of fact, in response to that movie. If I really was proud of it, I'd find one of those "Virginia is for Lovers" T-shirts and cross out a couple of letters.

AR begs a touchy question here - are Atlanta "women" (substituting a W-word) clean, while Columbus women aren't? Wasn't it the Atlanta rap crowd which invented the phrase "dirty south?"

I must confess I'm a bit familiar with the "hot" places in Atlanta AR mentions. I used to live in suburban College Park, and made plenty of trips down the notorious former Stewart Avenue. In fact, I stopped on that street a few times - and I thank Nalley Honda for selling me my current car.

(But hold on - the Pink Pony?! Wasn't that a toy and TV series for children years ago? I think that was the color of "My Little Pony....")

Now let's clean up our thinking, with some other news items from Tuesday:

+ Columbus Council approved $15,000 in extra money for the local "Drug Court," making a total of $42,000 from the city in the last year. Federal grant money for the court is down - and I guess fines are down, because people are hiding their marijuana much better.

(Mayor Bob Poydasheff said he'll ask local attorneys to take Drug Court cases for free, to save money. Somehow I don't expect to see Ken Nugent walk into that courtroom for awhile.)

+ Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia held an education "listening session" at Hannan Magnet Academy. Some students were there to ask the Senator questions - but there's no word on who won the prize for spelling Isakson correctly.

+ A new report showed Georgia high school students did a bit better on the Scholastic Aptitude Test last year. But they're still tied with South Carolina for 49th among the states -- so people in Augusta who sing about "Georgia-lina" may not be able to use it in a proper sentence.

+ The Atlanta Falcons waived wide receiver Peerless Price, who was brought in from Buffalo to be the perfect partner for Michael Vick. It turned out he wasn't Peerless - and as a result, he's Jobless.

+ The Columbus Kiwanis Club honored 95-year-old retired federal judge J. Robert Elliott. He apparently needs a wheelchair to get around these days - but I wouldn't be surprised if his chair pusher still is sworn to secrecy.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE II: Someone quite different is scheduled to appear at the Columbus Kiwanis Club in a couple of weeks. Details are upcoming.)

SONG OF THE DAY: AR's e-mail made me think of Lee Greenwood, one thing led to another and -- wellll....

And I'm proud to be a virgin,

Since I have no STD's.

And I don't have to recall the babes

Who want to get back at me.

And I'll gladly stand up next to you,

And hug you as you may.

But there ain't no doubt I'll stop right there....

Until my wedding day!!!!

SCHEDULED THURSDAY: Did AR say something about nuts? Wait until you see this....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

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© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


The line formed on the right, and seemed to be the only line there was. Sunday mornings usually aren't that busy for supermarkets -- especially in a churchgoing city such as Columbus. Shoppers like me simply hope the Saturday crowds haven't left all the shelves in a shambles.

All I needed on this past Sunday morning was a half-gallon of milk and a couple of bags of snacks. But when I reached the checkout, there was a three-person line. I try to be an "Itsnobiggian" about such things -- it's no biggie to me.

A true patience test was at the front of this checkout line. The woman at the register was having trouble with a plastic card another woman wanted to use. And since this store was in downtown Phenix City, the card couldn't have been platinum....

The customer wanted to use a food stamp card to buy a couple of bags of groceries - but for some reason, the machinery kept declining it. There's nothing more frustrating than an impersonal thing which doesn't like you. With another person, at least you can take a good guess about why.

The customer waited very quietly for a couple of minutes, but then saw something through the supermarket window. "Police are here. I've got to go," she said - then left her bagged groceries at the checkout, and walked out! What was she going to do, file a discrimination complaint against the store on the spot?

The patrol car which pulled up outside actually was from the Russell County Sheriff's Department. The deputy got out, and went to the car the customer was approaching. Did someone give this deputy a hot tip? Or is there some secret code in food stamp cards, which rings alarm bells across Alabama?

"He got her," a couple of supermarket employees said as they stared outside. They seemed to suspect the customer was using an illegal food stamp card. As the late Johnnie Cochran might have said: If it won't take the swipe, the staff has a gripe.

But then my turn finally came at the supermarket checkout. I had a credit card - and the machinery wouldn't accept it, either! C'mon, my credit line is so ridiculously high it could buy some vacant spots at Cross-Country Plaza.

The transaction was cleared, and I was told to try again - but I was too fast for the staff, and pressed "credit" when they wanted me to press "debit." I could crack a joke about backwards thinking in Alabama, but I won't....

"It's acting vice-versed," the staff members said. Vice-versed? That sounds like poetry a guy writes his favorite prostitute.

Thankfully I had another option in my wallet, to end all these plastic headaches. "I can pay cash. Do you take cash?" The staff assured me they did, so I paid for my groceries that way. Hopefully no one slipped me a counterfeit note.

BLOG UPDATE: If you see a convenience store manager today, thank him or her for proving the "experts" wrong. As Hurricane Katrina came ashore Monday, the low gas price in Columbus went DOWN a couple of cents! New Orleans may be overrated, for both oil and football....

WXTX "News at Ten" reported some Columbus gas stations increased prices by a dime Monday. Perhaps it occurred late in the day, after I parked my car - after personally debating whether I should fill my tank, like I was a NASCAR crew chief.

The Columbus area endured several tornado warnings Monday, created by "feeder bands" of Hurricane Katrina. Before I moved to the South, I thought a "feeder band" was an opening act for a rock star.

Georgia Power crews left Columbus Monday, to help with the hurricane recovery effort along the coast. Workers were told to bring two weeks' worth of clothing and "personal items." Does that translate to one issue of Maxim magazine, or two?

Public TV's "Nightly Business Report" brought up one interesting possible side effect of the hurricane - a shortage of two-by-four boards. Timber farmers in Stewart County may not have to worry about paying high gas prices much longer.

Hoping you and yours are safe from the storm, let's check other notes from Monday:

+ Columbus city officials held a public hearing on changing Cherokee Avenue. The city's latest idea is a three-lane road, with a bicycle lane near the canal. I suppose this would work - since most of the Riverwalk doesn't have guardrails.

(Call it Weracoba Creek if you must. I say "canal" sounds a lot fancier and more impressive -- especially in light of those old cartoons, where Muskrat talked about "crick-mud.")

+ Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland announced the Columbus Airport will receive a $316,000 federal grant, to build a new taxiway. I haven't done the math on this, but I believe this comes to about $3,000 per airline passenger.

+ A former Talbotton Central High School principal took the school district to court. At issue was whether her firing violated the "fair dismissal" policy. Some students hope Judge John Allen will go farther, and order all schools to be dismissed for the fair.

+ The Georgia High School Association decided to move the starting football weekend back two weeks. Next year, the first games will be played on Labor Day weekend -- giving Muscogee County children an entire month of August with boring Friday nights.

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 29, 2005


(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Today's entry has language which may offend some readers. It's in the E-mail Update section - but we have several other hopefully G-rated jokes first.)

By the time you read this, Hurricane Katrina may have come ashore at New Orleans. Countless fundamentalist preachers are watching the news and saying, "Maybe now those pagans will stop celebrating Mardi Gras."

(When people ask me if I've ever been to "Sin City," they're often puzzled when I ask them a question back - which one? New Orleans? Las Vegas? Phenix City?)

Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus called off classes today, because of Hurricane Katrina. The decision actually was made Friday, when the storm appeared more likely to head toward our area. Can you tell G.S.W. does NOT offer degrees in meteorology?

Classes are in session campus-wide at Columbus State University -- but a few instructors might have called off courses on their own. Someone reported hearing C.S.U. students talk about cancellations Sunday night. But then again, maybe they had French Quarter drinking parties planned for Labor Day weekend.

As of Sunday night, Muscogee County schools were open - and that apparently has a few people surprised. A friend related one call he received about it:

"Well, why aren't they closed?"

"Because it's only going to rain."


"Maybe you should call the school district about it in the morning."

"And what if no one answers?"

"Then they're closed."

Then there's the woman who called me Sunday night with a different hurricane-related question. "Why isn't the city of Columbus sending buses down there, to help people evacuate?" I suppose I should have asked the woman why she didn't drive her own car to New Orleans as well.

"They've got plenty of buses sitting around," the woman declared. Well, that was partially true. METRA has no Sunday bus service....

By sending all our spare METRA buses to New Orleans, the woman reasoned, evacuees will have a place to sleep - and Columbus will show it cares for its neighbors. But hold on here. Columbus didn't send spare city vehicles to the Gulf coast last year for Hurricane Ivan - and isn't Alabama our REAL neighbor?

"You have to put the city to shame, to get them to take action," the woman maintained. Sometimes that strategy works, and sometimes - well, consider it this way: Tom DeLay is still the House Republican leader....

This woman says she used to work in city government, so she knows officials "can find the money when they have to." That may be true - but one way or another, eventually they'll find it in our bank accounts.

(She went on to cross governmental lines -- saying the Muscogee County School District can afford to pay top-dollar for a couple of teachers, while air-conditioning units are broken at Carver High School. Could it be those teachers are training to FIX those units?)

It seems safe to say Columbus residents will help deal with the aftermath of Katrina. Georgia Power crews probably will head for the Gulf coast. The American Red Cross will send people and provisions. And in a true emergency, seized gambling machines could be lent to Biloxi casinos.

E-MAIL UPDATE: A blog reader put two of our recent items together, and reached a startling conclusion:

Dear Richard;

After reading the following comments ...

"Who I am isn't important," I told the woman (whose name I never learned, either).

"Yes, it is. Don't leave me like that."

"It doesn't matter." Then came a short pause.

"Are you an angel?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "I try to be."

... in your Sat., Sabbath, Religious Post, I think I should tell you ...

I am much more inspired to think of transcendent eventualities (is that your intent) with this discussion of you being an "ANGEL" than the one with you being a "VIRGIN?." [21 Aug] However, I am so glad to see that you enjoy the edge of the realm of the ridiculous as well as the sublime.

Obviously the "VIRGIN" discussion was precipitated by a movie and the "ANGEL" discussion was precipitated by a (perhaps misguided) woman with her need for understanding her meaning in life and your compassion.

Having said all of that, it is possible you just need to get laid (oops, sorry, did i say that?), (otherwise you might keep ? "obsessing" over it), and post to perfect strangers that you are a "VIRGIN!" ... which begs the question ... why do we need to know this and why do you need to tell it. Why do people read this? Could it be because some think it might be true?

Which is it ...

Wanna be virgin, (with obsessive thoughts of sex, this is one way to be more sexual as the subject doesn't often leave the mind of one conflicted in thought and action).

Wanna be sexually experienced, (the experienced have no need to discuss, just a need to pray).

Wanna be angel, (when used as a fictional tool the imperative of reality intervenes with, "MEN ARE MEN" and "ANGELS ARE ANGELS" and one does not become the other, vice versa).

I enjoy your BLOG and i must say it is off the beaten path ... sometimes so far off that i don't like it until i have had a day to digest it.

I must say I'm shocked - SHOCKED! - at the language in this e-mail. Why, most of our readers may not even know what a "transcendent eventuality" is.

Yes, my "virgin revelation" came as a result of the movie "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." I decided: if people at the other end of the sexual spectrum want to come out of their closets, why should I stay locked inside mine? Besides, I suspect my closet is a lot cleaner....

Why should I keep my mouth shut and hide the fact that I'm a dictionary-definition virgin past age 40? If I understand the movie correctly, such a person is considered an out-of-date laughingstock nowadays. But remember one thing - I can ignore all those commercials for STD treatments.

The writer seems to give me three options for what I want to be - and I guess I'd choose the "virgin" option, only without the obsession. After all, for me sex is like yacht racing. If you're not in a position to do it or see it, you don't think about it all that much.

The writer makes a biblically accurate point about a "wanna be angel." Humans don't "graduate" to become angels - and I really don't think anyone can earn their wings by helping Jimmy Stewart in a movie.

(Remember: men are men, angels are angels - so the men playing baseball for the Los Angeles Angels must be something in between.)

By the way - did you notice "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" was the top-selling movie in ticket sales for the second weekend in a row? Maybe I should post a sign outside my home, and charge admission to see me....

COMING THIS WEEK: What made a woman leave behind sacks of groceries at a checkout counter, and walk out the door....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I wrote Saturday's blog entry early - and then all sorts of follow-ups developed in the news. But before you ask: I do NOT plan to follow Adam Johnson up to Atlanta, for exclusive pictures from rehabilitation. After all, which tabloid would buy them?

The son of Muscogee County Sheriff Ralph Johnson pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license. As a result, Adam Johnson is now in an Atlanta "treatment center." A few of us wish he'd work in sewage treatment, to stop all those nasty spills into the Chattahoochee River.

Adam Johnson entered a treatment center on the advice of his attorney. Mark Shelnutt says the sheriff's son may be a substance abuser, or could have a "neurological" problem. That means the nervous system - and Ralph Johnson has reason to be nervous about his son being in "the system."

After the rehabilitation in Atlanta is finished, Adam Johnson is expected to spend 20 days in jail and one year on probation. The sentence could be worse, you know - he could be forced to drive "the wagon" he's supposed to be on.

Yes, I hear the talk radio callers saying the Adam Johnson story is a family's private affair. But police records are open to the public in this country. Would you rather be in Iraq, where Saddam Hussein's government made it appear thousands of opponents simply evaporated?

Besides, some people may find it a bit more than ironic that a sheriff who attempts to enforce and uphold the law has a child who seems determined to violate it. At the very least, it shames the family name - but then, there are so many Johnsons that you have to sort out which one it is.

There was one surprise in the sentence for Adam Johnson. I heard nothing about him being disqualified from ever having a Government Center parking space....

And yes, we have an update on the "parking spot spat" as well. Judge Frank Jordan, Jr. has rescinded his court order demanding a space be given his court reporter. The risk of an emotion-driven game of bumper cars under the Government Center now has disappeared.

Court reporter Kathy Bostic explained she needed a parking space under the Government Center for security reasons. She says she sometimes takes evidence home with her - including guns. Then Bostic doesn't need a secure parking space. She needs a free training course at Shooters.

Kathy Bostic explained she takes guns and drugs home with her during criminal trials because she considers an evidence storeroom inside the Government Center unsecured. Just wait until the inmates doing after-hours cleaning duty inside the building learn that scoop....

Judge Frank Jordan, Jr. noted he's been concerned about security for his court reporter since the bloodbath at Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse in March. But aren't there other ways to handle this matter? For instance, add an extra key to the reporter's keypad which launches poison darts.

Under a compromise to take back the court order, a Muscogee County Sheriff's Deputy will escort Kathy Bostic to her car when circumstances require it. I was ready to call that a step toward security - but then I remembered the last deputy to open fire on somebody was David Glisson.

On top of that, Judge Frank Jordan, Jr. now has agreed to give Kathy Bostic HIS Government Center parking space. That's only the chivalrous thing to do, here in the polite South. But if Judge Bobby Peters gives up his spot to a woman, the rumors will start....

Almost overlooked in all this "legalese" was a front-page story in Friday's Ledger-Enquirer. Tom's Foods confirmed it will terminate its employee pension program. We knew the company was in financial trouble - but this chip crunch is worse than we thought.

Employees who put money in the Tom's Foods pension plan now might wind up with nothing. Those of us who have lost quarters and dollar bills in Tom's vending machines can feel their pain -- at least a little.

It's a bit infuriating to read Tom's Foods is reneging on its pension plan. This program was a promise of sorts to employees, and now it's being broken. Next thing you know, the city of Columbus will forget to build a new marina....

E-MAIL UPDATE: Our "fact or fiction" item this past week about TV weather radar brought this response:

Hi Richard,

I'm attending school in Athens now, and, living in the middle of a cow pasture not served by cable, I've had the opportunity to enjoy my over-the-air television reception. It so happens that I can receive three Media General TV stations: WNEG 32 Toccoa, WJBF 6 Augusta, and WSPA 7 Spartanburg. As you know, Media General is also the parent of WRBL.

Both WJBF and WSPA appear to have a much higher investment in news than WRBL, at least graphics-wise, set-wise, and radar-wise. Both tout their Live VIPIR (6/7) weather radar. What does VIPIR stand for, you ask? Their promos frequently remind the viewer that VIPIR stands for: Volumetric Imaging and Processing of Integrated Radar

Why doesn't WRBL have a "Live VIPIR 3" radar? Why does WRBL still have the same decade-old news set that has been partially reassembled in the former newsroom? Why doesn't WRBL give away umbrellas when Jeff's forecast is right?

But anyway, WRBL does do a better job than WNEG "News Channel 32", a station that appears to be using 1980s-era graphics. Other than their lead male anchor (a broadcast veteran), the entire staff looks even more youthful than you'd expect in Columbus. They have newscasts at 6, 7 and 11 pm, but the news at 7 is simply a repeat of what aired 30 minutes before. Oh, and they don't appear to have a meteorologist on staff -- the weatherman at WSPA prerecords their weather segments. I will give them credit; they are the only source of news in northeast Georgia.

By the way, the lead male anchor on WJBF's news happens to be Brad Means.

Do you remember Zubi Anwar? Maybe WRBL would be interested in inviting her back to fill an anchor chair....


Former Media General employees might have a different description of where Thomas lives - the devil's triangle.

I don't know why WRBL doesn't have VIPIR radar. Perhaps the Chattahoochee Valley Vipers have to start playing indoor football first?!

I was somewhat familiar with VIPIR radar from a station in Panama City, Florida. It claims its radar can track storms "street by street." So why can't they tune this thing to track escaped inmates?

(But I have to admit, I thought "volumetric imaging" was how stylists measured those big hairstyles in the 1980's....)

As I recall, Mitzi Oxford used to give away umbrellas when she last presented the weather on WRBL. I could take a guess about why that isn't done anymore -- but Media General IS appealing that big court judgment.

Yes, I knew Brad Means had moved to Augusta from Columbus. I happened to attend a farewell party for him several years ago in the Historic District. It was a Saturday night so strange, fireworks went off across the street - and the hosts never expected them.

But no, I don't remember Zubi Anwar. Perhaps other Columbus TV viewers will. With a name like that, I can imagine people were calling TalkLine demanding to see her immigration papers after one week on the air.

Let's get out of the studio now, because a lot of interesting things are happening outside this weekend....

+ Eufaula hosted an annual outdoor art show. So which sold better this year - paintings of the lake or Shorter Mansion?

+ Phenix City held its second annual street dance near downtown. If you missed this, go to a Russell County Commission meeting - and admire Cattie Epps and Judge Al Howard dancing around contact with each other.

+ The annual Midnight Express Run brought out about 5,000 people in midtown Columbus. This year a parallel race was held in Iraq -- and I'm not sure which is more dangerous: running in Iraq, or at 12:00 midnight on a Columbus street where anything could be hiding behind a bush.

+ Back inside, the Columbus Civic Center hosted auditions for a local version of "American Idol." So where were the picketers from Fred Phelps's church in Kansas? Doesn't he realize the Bible condemns idol-worship, too?

+ Auburn University announced it will open the football season next year against Washington State. That's the university where Mike Price used to be head coach - so I guess it's no surprise that Alabama allowed this to happen.

+ Phenix City Central shelled Shaw 20-11 in high school football. Since these rivals' stadiums are right down the parkway from each other, shouldn't they play for the J.R. Allen Trophy? And maybe you can give a special prize to the first player who can identify who J.R. Allen was....

+ Hurricane Katrina gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico, and appeared destined to hit New Orleans Monday. My pastor is vacationing in Gulf Shores, Alabama - and once again, his prayers are proving stronger than a storm.

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.44 a gallon at Marathon on U.S. 80 in Ladonia.... frozen ground turkey for $1.06 a pound at Wal-Mart SuperCenters.... and it's the last Sunday for "football widows" to spend quality time with their husbands until sometime next spring....

COMING MONDAY: E-mail about angels, virgins and (ahem) the "L-word"....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 26, 2005


"Hey, sweetie," said the middle-aged woman approaching me on the sidewalk. It was about 11:30 a.m. Friday, and I'd never seen this woman before. Isn't it a bit early in the day for prostitutes to be out?

But my thoughts about the woman adjusted a bit when she said: "Do you have any change? I'm trying to get something to drink." And you thought the Children's Miracle Network had an original idea with the "Change Bandit."

We were at Oakland Park Shopping Center, so I offered to buy the woman something to drink at one of the shops. "All I really need is some water," the woman said. That was fine with me - but apparently unlike many of this woman's friends, I don't carry empty cups around with me.

"I didn't get any sleep all night," the woman added. In this part of Columbus, there could be many reasons for that. Maybe a one-night stand, maybe late-night firing practice at Fort Benning....

"Where are we going?" the woman asked me a couple of times.

"I'm going to buy you some water."

"You shouldn't have to pay for water. We can go to the laundromat...." the one at the north end of the shopping center. But the vending machines there DO charge for bottled water - and the restroom in the back doesn't even have paper towels, much less paper cups.

Finally I walked the woman inside Millie's Corner. "I didn't know they had this."

"You didn't know this store was here?"

"I knew it was here." Apparently she has relatives who work at this grocery/restaurant - but a place like this selling bottled water?! She must have thought all Millie's had was fruits and vegetables many people can't pronounce.

We checked a drink case, but didn't see bottled water right away. Soda would not do for this woman. "I might develop dehydration...." she said. Come to think of it, maybe then she would sleep....

"Stand right here," I told the woman, "and I'll get you some bottled water." Based on the way she was talking, one more step could be her last -- and I could have walked a grocery store unwittingly into a big wrongful death suit.

The restaurant part of Millie's Corner is in the back, but the manager told me what the woman needed really was up front. "Tiene bottled water?" I asked a young woman behind the counter. Of all the dramatic moments to forget the Spanish word for bottle....

Thankfully, the young woman knew some Spanglish - and her words let us to the hidden part of the drink case where bottles of Nestle water were stashed. The dehydrating woman was become so desperate, she actually was willing to accept a bottle of lemonade as a last resort.

With this seeming life-or-death matter resolved, the woman explained more of her story. "I couldn't sleep last night because my truck was stolen by my ex-boyfriend. Now he's being chased by the police...." Not very quickly, apparently - because I heard no sirens in two hours at this shopping center.

The woman said she left her purse in the truck, and that's why she was out begging for a drink. She seemed to live in the Oakland Park area - but I didn't think to ask her she didn't get water from her tap. Columbus Water Works usually goes by 30-day billing.

But I did notice something curious when the woman said her purse was gone. "What's around your waist?"

"A fannypack."

"What's inside it?"

"Nothing" - which wasn't quite true, because the woman then pulled a driver's license out of it. With no truck, I guess it's worthless.

"Here, I'm legit," the woman said as she showed me her driver's license. From the picture on the license, this woman apparently spent all night blow-drying her flat hair as she attempted to fall asleep.

"I've got that and my inhaler," she said as she opened her fannypack before me inside the store. Inhaler? "I've got asthma." Yes, and something else in her hand.

"Are you supposed to smoke with asthma?" I asked pointing to a nearly-finished cigarette.

"No," she admitted. "I'm a little bit nervous." Nervous about what her ex-boyfriend might do to her truck, I suppose - or maybe the possibility that I was plain-clothes police.

With 92 cents paid for the bottle of water, the woman and I walked outside. "Where were you going?" she asked me.

"To Goodwill," I answered - going to the thrift store to browse for clothes while my laundry was in the dryer. "But your need is more important than my want."

"Well, go ahead, then," she said - but instead of walking south as I had before, I went north to check on my clothes. She filled my waiting time in a far more unusual way.

"What's your name? I didn't get your name," the woman asked as I walked away. I was walking faster than this nervous, nearly-dehydrated sleep-deprived asthmatic with a possible nicotine addiction. Perhaps that shouldn't have surprised me.

"Who I am isn't important," I told the woman (whose name I never learned, either).

"Yes, it is. Don't leave me like that."

"It doesn't matter." Then came a short pause.

"Are you an angel?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "I try to be."

COMING SUNDAY: E-mail about radar, dead and alive.... and we have a bunch of other stuff to update....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

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© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.


What does a Muscogee County Judge have in common with Cindy Sheehan? Both are trying to move to the front of a line - although Sheehan hasn't had the audacity to go to court and demand it.

Word came out Thursday that Muscogee County Judge Frank Jordan, Jr. issued a court order in June, demanding his court reporter receive a Government Center parking space. Apparently this judge hasn't heard conservatives complain about "legislating from the bench."

Judge Frank Jordan's court order specifies Kathy Bostic is to have one of the 298 parking spaces under the Government Center. That's all the court order says - nothing about how it's to be accomplished. Did anyone in the City Manager's office think about giving her the judge's spot?

There's one big problem with this court order: there's a waiting list to park under the Government Center. In fact, Kathy Bostic reportedly is 84th in line for a parking space. I doubt there's ever a line that long at an "84 Lumber" store....

I guess I should have realized there was a waiting list for Government Center parking spaces. So many people work in that building -- but you'd think more of them would be loyal to the city, and ride METRA buses every day.

Some city employees admitted Thursday they've been on the waiting list for a Government Center parking space for three to five years. These workers probably have one thing in common -- stronger legs, from doing more walking to and from their cars.

A few Government Center parking spaces are reserved for specific people. Department heads have their own spots, as do all Columbus Councilors. So can't we work out a compromise here? Let Kathy Bostic park in Councilor Gary Allen's space every day except Tuesday.

(Did you know the mayor also has a reserved parking spot outside the Columbus Water Works office downtown? Can't our top elected official trust what comes from his tap?)

Not only is demand high, but Government Center parking must be tight. The Ledger-Enquirer's Tim Chitwood reported the other day on a scrape involving Mayor Bob Poydasheff in a city vehicle. The mayor shrugged it off -- and for all we know might sell that car to a Russell County stock car racer.

So should Judge Frank Jordan get his way, and should Kathy Bostic get a parking space? Columbus city officials don't think so - and they've appealed the judge's order to the Georgia Supreme Court. If there's any justice, this appeal will be heard during the December shopping season.

Judge Frank Jordan declined to talk with reporters Thursday about his court order. His writing about parking spaces may be in overdrive, but at least his mouth is in neutral....

BLOG UPDATE: The Muscogee County Library Board received an update on the "Transformation" controversy. Albert Paley has stopped working on that proposed sculpture - and perhaps will divide all that metal into several creative-looking coat racks.

Library Board chair Dr. Thomas Wade said the $250,000 budgeted for "Transformation" may be used to purchase other works of art - such as paintings for the "grand reading room." Come to think of it, oil-based paint probably costs a lot more these days....

Dr. Thomas Wade added the Columbus Public Library may hold a contest among local artists for items to display. You have to admit he's saying all the right things - so which public relations consultant did he hire?

By the way, the Columbus Public Library "book lady" was on WRBL Thursday with a book called "P is for Peach." Uh-oh - didn't anyone tell this woman about Sean Combs changing his name from "P. Diddy" to "Diddy?" The letter P must be out of fashion for this fall.

Now for other items which were on display in the news Thursday:

+ Hurricane Katrina came ashore near Miami, with projections indicating it could come near Columbus Monday. There's a perfect song for this moment in history - but would any radio station dare play "Walking on Sunshine," by Katrina and the Waves?

+ The Russell County District Attorney's office threatened to take the Center City Motel to court unless improvements are made. It's supposedly become a center for drug dealing and prostitution. I wondered where the sign was, promoting free high-speed Internet access.

(What's going on here, with so many East Alabama motels being used for drug deals? Are fewer couples using those rooms for adulterous affairs?)

+ Georgia Congressman David Scott said he hopes to meet personally with President Bush about plans to close Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson. Scott says he'll remind the president that Georgia voted for him last year. Now THAT'S the way to take politics out of this process....

+ The Columbus Catfish game in Savannah was suspended after two innings, because a bank of lights refused to come on. This shows how high gas prices have become -- because not enough fans would move all their cars around, to shine their
headlights toward right field.

(The Catfish were leading 5-0 when play was stopped. The game will resume at 1:00 p.m. today, followed by another nine-inning game - or as some of us call it, a Sabbath-Keepers' Special.)

+ The Atlanta Falcons jolted Jacksonville in preseason football 23-7. This game was not shown on local television because it was televised nationally on ESPN - which you may have noticed is becoming the "Entertainment, Spelling and Poker Network."

+ Instant Message to the older woman I saw in a Phenix City drugstore wearing a bright green outfit: That's a nice color for summer - but with your dyed-orange hair, it doesn't quite work.

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

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© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


A disclaimer may be in order first: This blog was not set up to throw stones at any person or business in particular. If it seems that way, maybe it's because a business keeps setting itself up for jokes - and I can do pretty well at playing T-ball.

Blaine Stewart declared Wednesday he'll leave WRBL within a month. It's not clear from Stewart's statement if this was completely his decision. But if he doesn't appear on News 3 This Morning today, we might have a definite answer....

It's routine in the television business for journalists to sign contracts with stations. Blaine Stewart's contract with WRBL apparently expires in September -- and perhaps Stewart should give a framed copy of it to his boss, on his final day.

Blaine Stewart openly has been looking for TV jobs in other cities. His statement Wednesday admitted he's "stressed" by the fact that he has no job lined up at this point. Can anyone help Stewart here - do the day laborers still gather every morning on 15th Street?

Only last week, Blaine Stewart said goodbye to "News 3 at 5:00" anchor partner Jessica Clark. Now he's leaving that newscast as well - so this could be the big moment for Amy Giuliano and Dave Marshall to make a triumphant return.

If you think about it, WRBL now has several anchor positions to fill. Blaine Stewart has been anchoring the morning news since Amy Giuliano left in May. With this many missing anchors, a WRBL report from West Point Lake could be dangerous....

(Would WRBL's bosses dare go all the way, and change the 6:00 p.m. anchors as well? After all, I'm still waiting for the "Bring Back Brad Means" protest line to form outside the building.)

So who should fill these open anchor chairs at WRBL? Someone suggested to me the other day Candace Cook might be a good candidate. And as longtime blog readers know, we've proven she was one important ingredient for the job - the hair.

For all the pokes I've made at Blaine Stewart over the years, he truly has shown ability and talent at WRBL. I've felt for a long time he was ready for bigger and better things outside Columbus. Hopefully that won't mean delivering Fed-Ex packages in Memphis.

While we wait for Blaine Stewart's "Situations Wanted" ad to appear in the newspaper, let's check other big events from Wednesday:

+ A natural gas leak led to the evacuation of Carver High School, and no classes for the day. Officials blamed the leak on some vandalism by students - which happened years ago! So which members of the Class of '99 scored D's in science?

(The natural gas leak was uncovered one day after the evening news reported Carver High School has 35 broken air conditioning units. I suggest at its next meeting, the Muscogee County School Board take bids for heat pumps.)

+ A parked and shut-off Ford Expedition caught fire in Phenix City. In fact, it happened inside Phenix City Fire Station #1 on Crawford Road! [True/WRBL] At least this time, critics can't write the "Citizen-News" complaining about slow response times.

+ The Base Realignment and Closure review commission approved the transfer of about 4,000 soldiers from Fort Knox, Kentucky to Fort Benning. If those soldiers can smuggle gold from Fort Knox down with them, south Columbus might get some revenge on the north side.

(But the BRAC review panel upheld the closing of Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem in Atlanta. Fort McPherson has at least 20 listed historic buildings - and imagine how they'll look after big-money rap stars buy them.)

+ Auburn University researchers announced they've developed a genetic "super-catfish," that's larger than normal varieties. NOW you tell us this -- the Columbus baseball season is almost over.

+ Instant Message to whomever left a Coca-Cola "Look Under" cap on the Riverwalk: Thank you very much! I've won a small popcorn with the purchase of bottled water at Carmike Cinemas. Hopefully the staff won't mind if I walk out, without buying a movie ticket.

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Fishing along the Columbus Riverwalk at 11th Street (one man caught 13 fish there Wednesday).... 20-ounce sodas for 39 cents with a Walgreens coupon.... gas for $2.49 a gallon at Spectrum on 4th Street (well, maybe before 10:00 a.m.?!)....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

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© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Let's play a game today called - hey, that title above will work - "Fact or Fiction." We have a series of statements, and your job is to figure out if each one is fact or fiction. Ready?

1. Now that gas prices have jumped above $2.50 a gallon in Columbus, they'll never come down again.

2. A report to Columbus Council on "impediments" should contain both good and bad news.

3. WRBL's "First Alert" weather radar is so "live," you can see it sweeping on the screen during newscasts.

4. If you drop pennies on your front porch and leave them there, you'll have good luck.

5. Local bloggers who work for the "mainstream media" are nothing more than mouthpieces for them.

6. If I move out of the Historic District, I'll meet nice women - and I won't be a virgin much longer.

Those are the statements. Now please exchange computer monitors with your neighbor, and let's compare answers:

1. FICTION. I saw it with my own eyes Tuesday - as gas prices around South Commons fell to $2.50 a gallon. Writing "FELL to $2.50" admittedly still doesn't feel right....

The low gas price in Columbus had been $2.55 a gallon. Now it's at $2.50. Only four more big jumps down, and this checkers game finally will be even.

Speaking of low gas prices: why did the "RaceTrac" station on Victory Drive at Interstate 185 change its name to Raceway? Is it one of those national "brand consolidation" things? Or does "RaceTrac" sound too much like something rural hicks visit?

2. FACT -- according to Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff. He was a bit annoyed Tuesday, because a consultant's report on "impediments in fair housing" only mentioned impediments. After all, how do people expect this mayor to run for reelection next year?

Consultant Dr. Douglas Frederick found several areas where Columbus's "fair housing initiative" is lacking. For one thing, about 14 people reported facing racial discrimination in the last five years. Now we're waiting for them to file the class-action lawsuit.

Douglas Frederick's report also concluded there's a lack of affordable housing in Columbus. I didn't realize apartments and houses in the Liberty District were so expensive - you know, the places with first floors so far off the ground that the "crawl space" would be comfortable for midgets.

The addition of thousands of soldiers to Fort Benning stands to make the deficiency in affordable housing even worse. Construction crews are building as quickly as they can - but let's face it, Victory Drive doesn't have as many mobile home dealers as it did ten years ago.

Douglas Frederick's report suggests Columbus make more of an effort to inform people about what to do, if they have a housing complaint. If it's against Moon Family Properties, you could go to their office and.... well, then again, I'd keep my clothes on....

But Mayor Poydasheff found fault with the fair housing report. He told WRBL it should have included a list of areas where Columbus is doing well. Obviously the mayor is a Fox News Channel viewer, because he wanted the title to read "fair housing and balanced."

Mayor Poydasheff apparently believes in the idea of mixing loving encouragement with words of criticism. I hear that mentioned often when it comes to child-rearing - but c'mon, this is city government. Elected officials already should know they're wonderful - or at least think so.

3. FICTION - or so a man told me the other day. He insisted I mention in this blog that WRBL's radar is NOT live. I'm going to assume he went to that station, and saw the death certificate for himself.

WRBL's meteorologists talk about having "live radar" - and the other night, you could even see it sweeping a time or two. But this man declared it's really a "time-delayed" radar, and the sweeping effect is fake. Wow - now I'm wondering if the "Golden Apple Award" is made of real gold.

(You'd think most people wouldn't mind having things on television time-delayed these days. After what Janet Jackson did during that Super Bowl....)

There's one way to get to the bottom of this radar question. Could we bring in an outside meteorologist to check it? Nicole Mitchell from the Weather Channel in Atlanta could lecture me about that equipment as long as she pleases.

While we're in this neighborhood - Instant Message to WXTX "News at Ten": So the announcement that a Russell County judge is running for Alabama Supreme Court was "First on Fox," huh? You didn't read this blog last week, did you? [18 Aug]

4. FACT - based on the word of my next-door neighbor. I went out for a morning run Tuesday, and saw a few dozen pennies scattered on his front porch. For all I knew, they might have fallen out of his jacket pocket because he was running late for work.

I pointed out the pennies to another neighbor later in the day, and that neighbor explained the man next door was doing it for good luck. Well, it IS late August - awfully late to try that black-eyed pea trick....

When the man next door came home late Tuesday, I asked if the pennies on the porch were working for him. "They're starting to, a little bit," he said -- and threw a few more pennies on the concrete. Doesn't he realize there's a perfectly good fountain for them a short walk away?

I didn't press the issue of what sort of good luck my neighbor is having. But after thinking about it, one thing comes to mind - he's lucky the letter carrier didn't scoop them up as a tip, while delivering the mail.

(I didn't count exactly how many pennies are on this man's porch. But I noticed he did NOT pick up 100 pennies Tuesday night, to buy a Mega Millions ticket.)

This was the first time I'd heard of a "pennies on the porch" approach for good luck. Personally, I think the whole thing is FICTION. After all, I picked up 58 pennies from a racquetball court last month, put them in a cup in my car - and gas prices went way up, anyway.

5. FICTION, in spite of what a competing area blog posted the other day. Oops, excuse me - the author calls it an "online magazine" these days. He didn't explain why, but I think he's now free to accept political action committee money.

But anyway: this man indicated people who blog while working for "the local media" leave a question about whether "you are merely an approved extension of the company.... writing only what the company would consider 'correct.'" Now hold on! I don't know if my bosses want me to be a virgin or not.

There admittedly are a lot of members of the Columbus news media keeping blogs these days. In fact, there's one who writes about making out with a "hot Latino guy" - and he's male! If his company considers that "correct," wait until the churches broadcasting on his station find out.

6. FICTION - at least I think so. This idea came by e-mail from the Birmingham area:

....A thought to your latest post [21 Aug]; you have the biblical part covered, and I am a church going Christian, but I see a needed upgrade in your current existence. Change the home address, the vehicle, the propensity to indulge the beggars and you'll reap the fruit of the opposite sex!

Just an FYI..............


To do all Craig proposes certainly would require changes. In fact, the beggars might find I'm walking up to them and asking for money.

Is First Avenue really that terrible an address? After all, Uptown Columbus developers like to brag about a renaissance in this corner of town - complete with people living in loft apartments. Doesn't living in a one-floor apartment make me a "down-to-earth" guy?

Then there's my 11-year-old car, which is getting about 30 miles per gallon in the city with gas prices so high. It's still running well - as long as I turn down the air conditioning level one setting, while going up steep hills.

Oh yes, about that "fruit of the opposite sex" - I wouldn't mind shopping for groceries with them at all....

Your PayPal donations can help me buy the car Craig is talking about! To make a donation, offer a story tip or 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

23 AUG 05: CTL-C CTL-V?

Columbus's next indoor football team received a nickname Monday: the Vipers. Well, OK - as if players in the Atlantic Indoor Football League can afford to buy and drive one....

The owners of the new indoor football team apparently wanted a regional name - so they'll be called the Chattahoochee Valley Vipers. Are Columbus sports fans really comfortable with a name like this? If officials in Georgetown or Fort Gaines decide to build a big new arena, this team might move.

The owners of the new team say hundreds of people suggested the Viper nickname, during an online "name the team" contest. Perhaps it's because the Columbus Cottonmouths already play hockey at the Civic Center. Or perhaps it's because the summer rain has brought out more snakes than we realized.

The first person to submit the winning name Chattahoochee Valley Vipers was Hamilton's Barry Lyon. He wins Vipers season tickets for life - or as a cynical-sounding friend of mine said Monday, "Two years."

(Barry Lyon says he even was offered the opportunity to lead a Vipers fan club - but he's not sure he'll take on the task. What, like it's hard?! Simply reserve a few tables at a sports bar every couple of weeks....)

When I heard the new name Chattahoochee Valley Vipers, it sounded very familiar. That's because the old Columbus Wardogs used to play the TENNESSEE Valley Vipers, which were based in Huntsville. I almost wondered if our team received a group discount on shirts and uniforms.

But a check online shows our new indoor football team probably is safe from a lawsuit. The Tennessee Valley Vipers dropped out of the "A-F-2 League" after the 2004 season, as the Wardogs did -- so maybe this is a swap of one nickname for two draft picks.

(The team in Huntsville moved to a different indoor football league, and now calls itself the Tennessee Valley Pythons. You'd think it would take a nickname like the Aardvarks - and fully claim the initials T-V-A.)

The Chattahoochee Valley Vipers also named a head coach and general manager Monday - a man named Richard Britt. With a first name like Richard, don't expect many jokes from me about him for a long time....

The Atlantic Indoor Football League will announce its schedule in October, and begin its new season next February. This will give the Chattahoochee Valley Vipers plenty of time to....

+ Take applications from prospective players - and if they submit C-V "curriculum vitae" instead of resumes, so much the better.

+ Organize a team of slim and trim dancers - the C-V-Leans.

+ Work out a deal for game telecasts - or C-V-T-V.

(If radio broadcasts are in Spanish, would that be C-V-si-si?)

LAUGHLINE FLASHBACK: When the first "indoor football" team in Columbus was announced, we were there for the news. Here's how we reported it in the LaughLine issue of 31 Oct 00:

An "Arena Football" team is coming to our town. Monday's announcement was promoted as a "pep rally open to the public." We counted fewer than 100 people on hand, including reporters. In our town, most people only have pep for things once they see them.

Our town's team will play in the minor league known as "A-F-2." We looked at the league's map full of current and possible cities, and thought it was the plan for "Air Force Two" - [Vice President] Albert Gore's plane.

An Arena Football Two official said the league plans to have anywhere from 60 to 72 teams within five years. We thought the football seasons were long NOW - but this league could take 18 months for everyone to play each other.

The announcement of the team was emceed by the manager of the local sports arena. He thanked almost everyone who works there, including the sanitation crew. "We promised to keep the building new for ten years," the manager said. After that, we can apparently buy the carpet in the lobby at a discount.

The general manager of the unnamed team described Arena Football this way: "It's a rock concert - and a football game's gonna break out." Has this man ever heard of the phrase "mosh pit?"

(A high school drum corps was recruited to play at the announcement ceremony, in the sports arena lobby. If an Arena Football game is THAT loud, the concession stands had better sell earplugs and aspirin.)

If you haven't seen Arena Football, it's played on a field placed over a hockey rink - and there are side boards, only without glass. The manager said in other cities, "We've had fans fall onto the field." Apparently not only will the tickets be low-priced - the beer will be as well.

BLOG UPDATE: Monday's Ledger-Enquirer quoted Muscogee County Sheriff Ralph Johnson as saying son Adam drove a family pickup last week without permission. So why would he drive it to a CVS pharmacy on a Sunday morning? To get his (ahem) drug prescription filled?

The newspaper had to submit a set of written questions to Sheriff Ralph Johnson, through his son's attorney. Why?! Next thing you know, we'll find out Adam Johnson was in David Glisson's squad car on that night in December 2003....

Someone actually brought up the latest Adam Johnson arrest Monday on WLTZ's "Rise and Shine." A caller claimed Johnson's earlier trouble was "covered up." That's strange - I seem to remember his DUI and marijuana guilty plea was on the evening news.

(Maybe the caller meant that collision with the little girl on Oates Avenue last October - but an outside check by state officials found Columbus Police handled that incident properly. And let's face it: former police chief Willie Dozier still hasn't published his memoirs, claiming otherwise.)

Meanwhile, the son of Georgia Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor appeared in a South Carolina court Monday. The son is accused of drunk driving, which led to a deadly wreck. Based on the Ralph Johnson precedent, Taylor should become Georgia's new Governor in about 17 months.

Until now, the only question about Mark Taylor's son involved where he went to school. While the Lieutenant Governor boasted of his Albany roots, his campaign biography revealed his son was in a private school in Atlanta. Maybe the idea was to help the son appreciate busing....

COMING SOON: When a blogger meets a spammer....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


So, you may be wondering, do I plan to see that new movie comedy "The 40-Year-Old Virgin?" By all means, NO! If anything, I'm thinking about suing the producers for stealing my life story....

Over the years, a few people have dared to ask me if I'm a virgin -- either former roommates or their friends. When they did this, I always asked them to define "virgin." After all, they might be looking for a Jimmy Carter-style "lust in my heart" answer.

I don't tend to go around talking about my virginity, as former pro basketball player A.C. Green did for years. Too many people would think I'm proud, arrogant and "holier-than-thou." Drivers of hybrid cars probably felt the same way, until the last couple of weeks....

So I wouldn't normally announce this in public -- but in light of that new movie, I will: yes, I'm a dictionary-definition virgin. For some of you, this will confirm once and for all what a weirdo you have writing this blog....

(By the way: why is a movie about a 40-year-old virgin rated R? Is he not getting any "action" because he walks around nude?)

Call me strange if you wish, but I've completely missed the "sexual revolution." I've even missed most of the lingo of the movement. When I worked at CNN Center, I tried to be hip and use the words "doggy style" in a story on a pet fashion show - and the copy editor had to explain what it (ahem) REALLY meant.

How have I missed out on sexual relations for 47 years? In my case, it's rather simple. You can't have sex without a partner. And very few women have been interested in having me as a partner - sadly, even at some church dances.

My first "real date" didn't occur until my sophomore year in college. It's not as if I didn't try. One high school girl in particular had my attention, and I called her often. Today she's an attorney in Kansas City - and if I called her now simply to say hello, she might sue me for harassment.

There were a few dates in college, but not that many - and I was turned down many times. In fact, one year I went 0-for-9 inviting women to a college Christmas dinner. It was like youth league softball all over again....

I started working at a Kansas City radio station on my college graduation day - and I became so busy with the work that I didn't think much about dating. Maybe this is how Catholic priests remain celibate. They keep staring at their Bibles - especially the verses about the lake of fire.

My closest call in terms of sexual relations came during my radio work in Kansas City. An announcer was engaged to a man at another station, but learned he'd cheated on her. She called off the engagement, and I "caught her on the rebound" without even trying. That's how it usually worked for me in basketball, too....

T.Q. was bright, perky and witty, and our personalities matched well. Shortly before I moved to a new job in Oklahoma, we got together for lunch at a soup shop in Kansas City's Westport area. On this winter afternoon, the soup would normally be the steamiest part of my day.

After lunch, T.Q. invited me to her apartment in a different part of Kansas City. I recall her nursing textbooks, as she was studying that before moving into radio - and a stuffed life-size human doll sitting on the furniture. Naturally, I figured one was connected to the other....

T.Q. showed me around her apartment - and led me to her bedroom. I vaguely recall a four-poster bed, but I do NOT recall going close to it. And no, I never stepped away from the soup to let T.Q. put something funny in it.

I settled for a goodbye hug with T.Q., and went on my way. I'm not sure if I left her disappointed or not. After all, she never stripped to her lingerie in front of me.

T.Q. went on to do on-air work at a few radio stations in Kansas City, and perhaps one in St. Louis. But after I moved to Oklahoma, I lost track of her. Maybe she's married to someone else now. Maybe she's in nursing - as in her own grandchild, after 23 years or so.

So there you have it - the closest thing to an afternoon of passion I've had in 47 years. I'm not counting the soap opera "Passions," because that annoying witch keeps getting in the way of the plot....

It's not supposed to be cool to talk about situations like mine. I guess that's why "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" is a comedy. In 2005, it's considered so far-fetched as to be impossible. Yet here I am, an exception to the rule -- and Saturday night when I drove down Victory Drive, I was boring again. I only noticed the new Sonic was open.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Enough about my strangeness - let's check another strange thing:


I just had to throw this one at you. As I was driving around Auburn today, I noticed a Northcutt Realty van. On the side was the slogan, "One Call Does It All!" Does that mean Ken Nugent's version is fading into the twilight?


Welllll - I'll answer that this way. If that van driver gets hurt in a car wreck, he'll only have about 99 other attorneys in the phone book left to call.

Now other sizzling subjects from the hottest weekend of the year:

+ East Alabama sources tell your blog Opelika has taken the area gas price lead, with some stations at $2.49 a gallon. I don't dare try to take advantage of this - because someone will tell the stations I'm coming, and jack up the price a dime.

+ Jessica Clark said goodbye to her WRBL viewers, as she moves to a station in Jacksonville. Co-anchor Blaine Stewart continued a strange personal tradition, by presenting Clark on the air a framed photo of himself! There must be a better way to get references on your job resume....

+ The Lee County Humane Society held "Woofstock 2005" - as dozens of people showed up with their dogs. This showed how times have changed from Woodstock, around 1970. At Woofstock, the frisky animals were on leashes.

+ Dixie Elementary School presented Shakespeare's play "The Taming of the Shrew," after a week of intense rehearsal. Some people in Russell County are hoping this will lead to a sequel: "The Taming of the Pit Bulls."

+ Harris County fifth-graders attended a pep rally at Columbus State University. The rally was designed to encourage the children to attend college. This must mean the approach of parents doesn't work - waving HOPE Scholarship papers in front of them.

+ Shaw's football team had a narrow escape in its season opener, edging Columbus High 21-20 in overtime. OK, who gave the Columbus baseball players all those extra steroids?

+ The night before, Pacelli won its opening game of the season 41-0. The Vikings played "Our Lady of Mercy" - so let's hear it for our men of justice.

(Really now - would YOU want to play football for a school named "Our Lady of Mercy?" How could a quarterback trust his offensive line, if it took that name seriously?)

+ The Columbus Catfish canceled their Friday night home game, because of "wet grounds." It didn't rain that much at South Commons Friday - so I want to know who spilled the water buckets all over the infield.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Other commitments will require an off day for this blog on Monday.)

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post a reply.

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© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 19, 2005


We received this invitation in our e-mail the other day, and decided it might be worth sharing with all of you:

In communities throughout America, thousands of people participate in Arthritis Foundation events. I am one of those people. I am teaming up with the Arthritis Foundation for the Arthritis Walk, where everyone will be walking in honor of someone with arthritis. I am writing to ask you to lend a hand as I take on this personal challenge!

Please visit my Web page to join my team or make a secure, online contribution to help me reach my fundraising goal. Arthritis doesn't discriminate -- it affects one in three people, including men, women, teens and even children. People turn to the Arthritis Foundation for information, support and resources -- you and I can help. The Arthritis Foundation has made it easy!

Your generosity ensures that the Arthritis Foundation continues leading the way toward prevention, control and cure of the number one cause of disability. Contributions through special events are vital to providing these services. Together, we can make a difference.

Thank you for your support!

Follow This Link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support Arthritis Foundation, Georgia Chapter

LAUGHLINE FLASHBACK -- 24 Sep 02: Have you noticed how many medical problems and treatments are named after people? Doctors and nurses probably call them by their first names for short, so patients don't get too scared about....

+ "Arthur" - for how some older people pronounce arthritis.

+ "Al" - for Alzheimer's disease.

+ "Angie" - for angioplasty.

+ "Di" - for diabetes. (Or is that diarrhea?)

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.

19 AUG 05: BUS OFF

Instant Message to whomever sets Columbus gas prices: Are you kidding?! You raise the price of unleaded gas 40 cents in nine days, in five big jumps - then Thursday, you cut the price a PENNY??? How much money are you guys losing in bets at the country club?

With gas prices so high, there's probably never been more interest in riding buses around the area. Yet there's probably never been more talk about cutting local service. If you didn't know better, you'd think Royal Dutch Shell was buying bus lines as well.

The latest warning of service cuts came Thursday from Lee County's transit system, LETA. Officials say the service has a $190,000 budget gap -- and if you know anything about passenger buses, you know they're not very good at jumping gaps.

So why is LETA in such a budget pinch? The same reason you and I are. Officials say the cost of diesel fuel has jumped 80 percent this year. It's getting so high, Vin Diesel might change his last name to Ethanol.

Right now LETA buses run 12 hours a day in Lee County. But officials are proposing a cut to six hours a day, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Central. This could bring back an old-fashioned tradition - with workers commuting home for lunch, then driving cars back to work in the afternoon.

But a vision-impaired woman made a very good point Thursday - an 8:00 - 2:00 bus schedule will make it impossible for workers such as her to use LETA buses. I guess you could say she's "raising Cain," because she doesn't want to walk a long way with one.

(But here's the thing: that woman was identified as the "manager" of a Salvation Army store. Can't she change the operating hours, as the LETA schedule changes? Have "beat the bus" specials in the final hour of the day....)

Some riders say Auburn, Opelika and Lee County governments should increase their contributions to LETA, so it can keep its current schedule. But in all the reports I heard Thursday, no one mentioned the METRA approach in Columbus - raising fares. If we drivers can pay 39 cents more, bus riders can pay a quarter.

The news from LETA came only one day after Phenix City's PEX system warned it also may have to cut service in September. Only PEX would operate eight hours a day, to LETA's six - so Auburn and Opelika must not be the big cities we keep hearing they are.

(By the way, did I see it correctly - there's a toll-free number on the side of PEX buses? If they only operate in Phenix City, why have that? Is there a discount for cell phone users, who haven't changed their numbers from other area codes?)

But the news is not all negative, when it comes to saving on the high cost of gas. Tonight Auburn will hold the city's first organized "Moonlight Ride" for bicycles. The city has several miles of bike and walking trails - and all those bicycles speeding by could be a dog's wildest fantasy come true.

An Auburn Public Works employee talked about the bike trails on Troy Public Radio the other day. First of all, she made news by NOT inviting any disgruntled Opelika Public Works employees to apply for jobs....

But anyway: the Auburn city employee told "Community Focus" you'll be required to obey Alabama law on tonight's Moonlight Ride. You'll have to wear a helmet, stay to the right on the trails and have a working light on your bike. In other words, do exactly the opposite of what they do in Columbus projects.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Sometimes you actually can smell an approaching thundercloud, you know....

Surprise, Surprise, more Bush bashing from AR [17 Aug]. I actually expected AR to say Bush is not a true Christian because he won't open the door.

Do you think Bush has intentionally barricaded himself behind doors to avoid all the parents of lost soldiers in Iraq? Check White House records.... he has met with dozens of parents of soldiers over the past few years. Certainly it would be great if he could meet with the parents of all 1,800 soldiers lost in Iraq; but I don't think that is a practical use of his time (can anyone say Dick Chaney). Not to mention this would open the door for anyone with a gripe to get in the Oval Office (vacuum salesmen who get doors slammed in their faces would be first I imagine).

As for the President greeting visitors at the foot door...yes in fact this did happen on regular 1835! Let's live in the present.

And just a quick comment to everyone who lives in the world of "give it to me now!" The United States has lost approximately 1,800 soldiers in 30 months of combat in Iraq. During the Normandy invasion Allied forces had 3,000 soldiers killed in ONE DAY! Not every attack is as easy as Panama and Grenada. I have family in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, I pray for their safety every night knowing they are doing the right thing.


Hopefully, Justin, you realize many people want to live in that world of "give it to me now." You'll see them in line today, buying Mega Millions tickets.

I've read complaints online which point fingers at President Bush for something other than meeting with military families. They say he's avoided military funerals. Come to think of it, Vice President Cheney's avoided them as well - and isn't funeral attendance part of his job description?

It truly would be interesting to see vacuum cleaner salespeople knock on the White House gate. Of course, all the rules would change - and the salespeople would have to pay the customer, to get any business.

Eve Tidwell was scheduled to return to Texas Thursday, this time with something new to display outside the President's ranch. She's carrying white sheets, filled with pro-military messages written by Columbus residents. On their way to Crawford, she should have taken a side trip to Fort Hood.

Eve Tidwell says she has permission to hang the white sheets with pro-military messages outside the Crawford football stadium. But isn't this asking for trouble? High school cheerleaders might think they're for the football team to run through, when they take the field.

Eve Tidwell admits she used water-soluble ink for the messages - so if they wash away from rain, she can tie the sheets with yellow ribbons and leave them outside the President's ranch. Apparently she checked in advance, and knows they'll match the bedroom decor.

But Cindy Sheehan's vigil outside the President's ranch was interrupted Thursday by something more urgent. Sheehan left because her mother had a stroke in California. There, you see - some Democrats DO put families first.

Believe it or not, both Cindy Sheehan and Eve Tidwell have said the same thing in the past week: what they're doing is NOT about politics. Yet they're on opposite sides of the barbed-wire fence, outside the President's ranch - and I don't think either woman majored in philosophy.

SPAM-A-RAMA: As we pulled out Justin's e-mail Thursday night, we found a "bulk mail" message with the title, "Rolex Jokes." OK, I have one. These his-and-hers Rolex watches are walking down the street, and one says to the other: "We don't make time for each other anymore..."

I'm about out of time now, so let's check other items from Thursday:

+ The 6:00 p.m. news ended with "Skycam" showing strong rain falling downtown, north of the Government Center. Yet only four or five blocks south of there, my neighborhood had NO rain at all! Maybe I missed the "popcorn shower" because I had popcorn stashed away already.

+ Dr. Shaun Cruzan of the Space Science Center told WDAK's "Morning Show" while the center has been closed for renovation this week, students have been "taking sledgehammers" to the lobby. Please don't tell me they were reenacting the re-entry of the shuttle in 2003....

+ A cattle truck overturned on the U.S. 280 Bypass in Phenix City, and several cows ran loose for awhile. Too bad Winn-Dixie closed the store on that highway - because "the beef people" would have handled that in a hurry.

+ The Georgia Wildlife Federation fixed its commercial for the "Buckarama" - because there's a different one this weekend in Perry. Well, I assume the federation fixed it. Certainly WRBL wouldn't have played the wrong ad until we called them out on it, would they?!?!

+ TIC Federal Credit Union donated more than 200 "cubby bears" to the Columbus Police and Fire departments, for giving to grieving children. The way the Chicago Cubs have played this year, is this really the right name to use to cheer youngsters up?

+ The Columbus Catfish fell to Rome 7-4, on "Bald is Beautiful" night at Golden Park. I missed the start of this game - so should I assume Councilor Nathan Suber threw the first pitch?!

+ The high school football season began, with Northside handling Hardaway 21-14. This game was NOT on radio, while tonight's Carver-Spencer game will be. This is what happens when high school alumni spend more to support baseball than football....

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: FREE FOOD!, distributed at Benning Hills Park Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.... FREE outdoor movie Saturday night at the Columbus Public Library.... FREE marching band music to hear outside football stadiums for the next three months....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, August 18, 2005


The sign seems so preposterous, most people probably do a double take when they see it: "Phenix City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu." Which is more preposterous - the thought of Brazilian people doing jiu jitsu, or Brazilians living or working in Phenix City at all?

Phenix City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a brand-new business on Crawford Road, a bit inside the 280 Bypass. With a name like that, I simply had to know more. After all, for all the talk of "One Columbus" there probably still are several Phenix Cities - beyond the great divide which is the Lee-Russell County line.

The only sign of trouble I noticed outside Phenix City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was a misspelled banner saying, "GRAND OPENNING." This could be evidence the owner is an immigrant from Brazil - but then again, Central High School didn't make adequate yearly progress this year.

I walked inside Phenix City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Wednesday night, and found four people wearing white robes warming up. Many people in East Alabama would be comfortable with that - but some might wonder where their hoods are.

It appeared two pairs of men were doing warm-up stretches, only with one person lifting up the other. People who walked in not knowing better might be shocked by this -- and think GCW wrestlers actually were practicing their holds for Saturday night.

One of the "men in white" (with apologies to Columbus Tech) then came over to chat with me. Iako said Phenix City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu opened a couple of weeks ago. Based on the small turnout Wednesday night, people haven't flipped completely for this yet.

So what about that name, "Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?" Iako said yes, jiu jitsu comes from Japan. In fact, he told me judo developed from jiu jitsu - so you black belt apostates should repent, and get back to the old-fashioned ways.

(My American Heritage Dictionary indicates "jiu jitsu" translates from Japanese into "soft art." In this country, that term would refer to designer pillows from those top-dollar furniture stores.)

Iako explained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a variation on the Japanese tradition, with more techniques where participants do not get hurt. That certainly beats my theory about that name - that people did martial arts in skimpy samba outfits.

(I should note Iako did not look either Japanese or Brazilian. If anything, he reminded me of country singer Cowboy Troy - only Iako's waistline shows he obviously exercises.)

Curiously, the license plates outside Phenix City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu were from North Carolina more than any other state. I didn't know Brazilian jiu jitsu is a big deal there. Maybe it's what you do in winter, if no one brings a basketball to the gym.

Iako says he's trying to spread the word about Phenix City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu mostly through "word of mouth." He apparently pays for the studio space through children's sessions two evenings a week -- because I didn't see a concession stand selling Brazil nuts.

So if you've driven by Phenix City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wondered what goes on there, now you know. It is NOT a place where you can learn Latin ballroom dance steps....

BLOG UPDATE: While we're in P.C., there's progress in the Troy University name change [3 Aug]. A trip down U.S. 431 Wednesday found the giant sign at the campus entrance is gone! Either the change from Troy State is underway - or the sign is hidden for next week's Chattahoochee Valley Community College scavenger hunt.

Highway crews have done their part to make the transition from T.S.U. to T.U. Green direction signs along U.S. 280 and 431 now have the "state" covered. In most cases, a governmental cover-up like this would bring calls for an investigation.

But on the Troy University campus in Phenix City, there's still no "sign" of change. "Troy State" remains all over the signs and buildings. They should have a ceremony officially removing that word from the campus - you know, State's rites.

Plenty of other things happened Wednesday which are worthy of mentioning:

+ About 25 supporters of Iraq war opponent Cindy Sheehan held a candlelight vigil in downtown Hamilton. Then they scurried away, before military veterans took down their license plate numbers to organize vigils outside THEIR homes.

+ Russell County Judge Al Johnson announced he'll run for a seat on Alabama's Supreme Court. The sooner he takes that office, the sooner Probate Judge Al Howard can have his office space....

(So let's not wait around here, and settle the big issue in any Alabama Supreme Court race. Where is Judge Al Johnson's Ten Commandments plaque?)

+ The Talbot County town of Woodland warned its drinking water has unsafe bacteria. Then an emergency water truck showed up from Atlanta -- only it wasn't cleaned properly, so its water couldn't be used! How about giving residents the soda being removed from all the grade schools?

+ Georgia's Board of Human Resources endorsed a budget which would close West Central Regional Mental Hospital. But this suggestion has been turned down before - so you tell me who the crazy people are....

+ Columbus State University President Frank Brown announced he's giving all faculty and staff members a free tree. Uh-oh, I can see it now - the "Lowe's Nature Center at Oxbow Meadows."

(Which members of the C.S.U. staff went outside to choose their tree, and asked which one the money grows on?)

+ A group of parents formed a picket line outside Beulah Elementary School, demanding a recess period be restored. One parent explained people can't be effective without regular breaks during the day. You can always spot the smokers in the crowd....

(Beulah Elementary's Principal explained recess had to be stopped, because new state requirements call for a 90-minute reading period each day. I propose a compromise -- with audio books programmed into iPods.)

+ Alabama's High School Activities Association announced all football games will have mandatory "heat timeouts" each quarter, for the first three weeks of the season. OK, which radio advertiser suggested this - Alfa Insurance? Bruno's??

+ Instant Message to the Georgia Wildlife Federation: If your "Buckarama" ended August 7, why were commercials for it appearing in Columbus on August 17? How backwards do you think we are?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.55 a gallon at the Citgo truck stop on U.S. 431.... milk for $1.99 a gallon at Spectrum.... Catfish "Bald is Beautiful" night: baseball fans who want discount tickets should avoid Rogaine for a day....

Your PayPal donations can keep this blog ad-free and independent-minded. To make a donation, offer a story tip or 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.

© 2003-05 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.