Thursday, November 30, 2006


In this era of blogs and Myspace, anyone can have a "web site" of some kind. Businesses have them. Political campaigns have them. Even high school classes have them to promote their reunions - although the one my class had for its 25-year reunion in 2001 was abandoned by this year. Apparently 30 years are too much for many of my classmates to bear.

In the last 48 hours, we've strangely received two e-mails about the same web site - apparently from two different places, with two very different viewpoints. This one reached us first:


I have to tell you I really enjoy reading your blog.

You haven't said anything about the new look of the WRBL website. Have you seen it? I think it looks great and is a good way to keep up all day with current news in the Columbus area. Check it out!

An Avid Reader

Thanks for the nice words, A.A. - but to be honest, I haven't said anything about changes at ANY of the TV station web sites. And I thought it was a major development when WXTX put Roszell Gadson and Deborah Singer at the top of its home page for awhile, replacing Hank Hill and Bart Simpson.

So we checked the WRBL web site. The top of the home page has changed, to reflect the new logo and news set of recent months. And three anchors are shown there - although I'm wondering if Jack Rodgers and Bruce Frazier are going to have a competition, to determine who will represent the sports department.

WRBL has joined the wave of news web sites letting you view televised reports online. There's even a way for you to obtain text messages of breaking news on your cell phone. And some people I know will be thrilled to learn this -- the short commercials for an Auburn car dealer inside news stories seem to be gone.

We don't usually mention this, but we must note the e-mail above came from a woman with the last name of Sweigart. Keep that in mind, as you read a second e-mail which arrived Wednesday:


You often talk about local TV news, but I am surprised since your domain is on the Internet why you don't chat up more about their companion web sites. Often they are a poor excuse for reading...full of grammatical and spelling errors, not to mention news that's never updated. As I write this, one local TV website still has a story about a plane crash east of Columbus. It appears this crash is way EAST of Columbus since the web site still says their crews are on the scene, and it's "developing".

Plane Reported Down

Chris Sweigart |

Site Coordinator,

November 28, 2006

Emergency Responders are investigating reports of a plane down East of Columbus.

Authorities have not been able to find the alleged down plane.

News 3 has crews on the scene.


My guess is either cell phones don't work that far east, the station crew ran out of gas perhaps....or just maybe they forgot to update their top story after 10 hours. Which one do you think is right? I'm glad I don't depend on this TV web site to keep me up to date. Your daily blog is a far better source of information.


Phenix City

Thanks for YOUR nice words, Bob - but now I'm feeling a bit guilty. I never knew about that possible plane crash until I watched the WRBL news Tuesday. So I never even went to the scene, much less take a crew -- and I'm not sure my neighbor would have been welcome with his BB gun.

I'm going to guess Bob's last theory is the right one. The WRBL web crew forgot to update Tuesday evening's top story by Wednesday morning. But then again, maybe the web crew was at the scene trying to find the plane....

(But to be fair, I think there are some places east of Columbus where cell phones don't work -- or they won't until Box Springs residents are persuaded to accept phone towers.)

I can understand Bob's concern about TV news web sites, and the errors they can have. Even in the short news item Bob sent us, it's called a "down plane." If it was made of feathers, you'd think it would have a soft landing.

The WRBL home page also shows the station supports the "Musculary Dystrophy Association." Y? Because Jerry Lewis cares....

I don't claim to be Mr. Know-It-All about the Internet, but at least one company which hosts TV station web sites has built-in SpellCheck capability. You simply click a button to run it as you post the story. But trust me on this - when a SpellCheck doesn't recognize the word "blog," can you really trust it?

So why don't I "chat up" TV station web sites? It's part of my grand strategy. The more annoyed you are with them, the more likely you are to come back to me. NYAH-ha-ha-ha-ha....

Now let's see if I can spell better than everyone else, as we review Wednesday's headlines:

+ Columbus educators began a two-day seminar on teenage gangs. Police say at least a dozen gangs are operating across the city. There's a way to bring them all together and make peace - but the city's trying to crack down on those Bradley Theatre parties.

(If police really want to go after the gangs, here's an idea I haven't heard anyone mention. Do criminal background checks on anyone buying spray paint.)

+ A Columbus woman told the evening news a fire truck crashed into her car because the truck's brakes failed. Larinrea Faye Wilson suggested this proves the Columbus Fire Department fails to properly maintain its vehicles. How does she know this, based on one wreck? The University of Alabama waited 23 losses, before it knew its football coach was a failure.

+ Albany city officials asked the Georgia Department of Transportation to extend Interstate 185 south of Columbus, and all the way to Florida. WRBL talked to one woman in Richland who predicted the town would not benefit, because all the business would locate near the interstate. Two-word answer -- downtown Starbucks.

+ Troy Public Radio's "Community Focus" discussed historic Fendall Hall in Eufaula. Site Director Deborah Casey insisted the hall's "correct colors" are the brown shades painted in the 1880's, as opposed to the original white with green shutters from the 1820's. If it's not one division over colors in the South, it's another....

+ A Birmingham radio talk show host accused the Birmingham News of covering up a possible scandal, connecting Alabama Attorney General Troy King with fired college Chancellor Roy Johnson. WAPI's Frank Matthews claimed the newspaper hid the story until after the election because it endorsed King. Matthews never needs to have a psychic for a guest - because he apparently is one.

+ Former Atlanta infielder Jim Morrison was named the manager of the Columbus Catfish. It looks like we'll hear "Light My Fire" at Golden Park at least once per game next season.

+ The National Football League fined Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick $10,000 for his (ahem) "finger pointing" after Sunday's loss. You may recall Vick was fined $5,000 a few years ago for not keeping his socks up straight. So in the league of "one knee equals two feet,"there's a new rule: one finger equals four ankles.

+ Instant Message to the man I saw dancing outside near Fourth and Veterans Parkway, singing "Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care": If I had a video camera and put your strange act on YouTube, I suspect you would care....

SCHEDULED FRIDAY: A Georgia company that's giving away convertibles.... or is it?....

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006


The President of Uptown Columbus announced Tuesday his organization is thinking about buying the Bradley Theatre on Broadway. Wouldn't that theatre look great in a nice shade of Business Improvement District purple?

Uptown Columbus President Richard Bishop revealed his interest in the Bradley Theatre, as Columbus Council considered recent complaints about unrest there. You may have seen the home videos of big crowds on the sidewalk on weekends, with occasional scuffles. You'd think the Chamber of Commerce would be promoting this, as proof of downtown's big comeback....

(Of course, how good are these home videos if they haven't made YouTube yet? We found one there Tuesday night from S.O.A. Watch weekend, which claims to show "a riot" downtown. Moving your camera back and forth wildly outside the Trade Center doesn't seem like a riot to me.)

Some downtown residents say the owner of the Bradley Theatre has turned it into a virtual nightclub, by holding weekend parties where alcohol is served. And here's the worst part - the theatre isn't showing any first-run movies during the parties.

The Bradley Theatre's owner says he's been abiding by city rules. The owner's name is Dave Thirruppathi, so I'm surprised he doesn't focus on holding concerts. You know, for some music Thiruppathi....

But Columbus Police officials announced at the Council meeting they will no longer allow off-duty officers to work at the Bradley Theatre. That rule applies to bars and nightclubs - but I'm not sure if there's an exemption for churches which serve wine during communion.

Dave Thirruppathi revealed at the Columbus Council meeting he's had the Bradley Theatre on the market for a year. Apparently he's been unable to convince potential buyers the "StreetScape" project on Broadway will end someday.

So Uptown Columbus is considering purchasing the Bradley Theatre. President Richard Bishop said it's a location which can hold 1,500 people. So that card I found guaranteeing 5,000 people at a Fountain City Classic party must have included the brawlers on the sidewalk....

Richard Bishop may have something different in mind for the Bradley Theatre. He told WRBL it might be a theatre. Oh no - does Columbus really need another antique mall?

It appears easy to read between the lines of Tuesday's announcements at Columbus Council. If Uptown Columbus buys the Bradley Theatre, the big open-to-all weekend parties will stop. So those revised applications for Club Roc in Phenix City can't be completed soon enough.

It also seems many of the Bradley Theatre's parties have catered to young African-American people. If Uptown Colunbus buys the theatre, it would better fit the "target audience" for Broadway - people who listen to WCGQ 107.3 or WGSY "Sunny 100." Country music fans don't even have hay bales in the middle of Broadway to sit on anymore.

It would be nice if the Bradley Theatre was modified to offer the same sort of thing the Carmike 15 is showing - digital versions of special movies and major sports events. I guess this already is happening to some extent. One home video clip showed "Extreme Freestyle Fighting" on the marquee - only the tape seemed to show it happening on the sidewalk.

E-MAIL UPDATE: OK, it's not quite a "Blog Exclusive" if part of it is also in the Ledger-Enquirer. But we posted Tuesday's main story first (yes, we checked) - and that story led to this message:


You mentioned the movie being made about the Iraq veteran who was murdered in Columbus. The newspaper also did an article about it this morning. But neither of you said where it was going to be filmed. Has it been decided yet? Is Columbus a possibility? Enquiring minds want to know!

Wanna be an "Extra"

I went back to the IMDB listing Tuesday, to answer these questions. I regret to tell you most of the filming of "In the Valley of Elah" is taking place in New Mexico. So don't go spending that "extra" paycheck on a new wardrobe at Parisian just yet.

An IMDB message board led me to a web site which is advertising for actors in "In the Valley of Elah." The producers actually are looking for military veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq, to appear in the cast. Let's all hope they don't act like the killers of Richard Davis, and turn on the movie's director.

By the way, the Mick Walsh article at the Ledger-Enquirer's web site DOES say "In the Valley of Elah" will be filmed in New Mexico and Morocco. Maybe that nice front-page picture of Charlize Theron distracted some male readers....

Now let's get caught up on mayoral matters - beginning with the outgoing one, and an item we mentioned Monday:

How interesting that Mayor Bob asked the Ledger not to break the story of the police vice squad problem until after the elections..The article writter said it was not ready ..didn't matter did it...

I guess it didn't - but where is the follow-up to this? Where is Mayor-Elect Jim "Big Chief" Wetherington, to explain what he plans to do about the new Special Operations Unit? Has he been out of town, trying to fill all the police department openings before taking office?

Our last e-mail goes back to a former mayor:

Judge Peters got married huh!?! I had't heard anything about this tidbit till reading your blog [26 Nov]. I never heard rumor of his lady till then and was shocked he married again. I am curious as to why she is going by only two last names (KIm Peters) and dropped the first name Yongmi althoghter??? To sound more American maybe??? The ad was very short although colorful. Good Luck to them both.

You raise an interesting question, but my follow-up call to Judge Bobby Peters still has not been returned. Perhaps he's been too busy getting down to (ahem) judicial business....

We should note in Asian culture, the order of names can be opposite those of Western countries. So Kim could be her given name, with Yongmi as the maiden name. But I suppose Yongmi could always come back, when the newlyweds check into nearby motels.

We thank all of you who write us, and now let's check other Tuesday headlines:

+ The high temperature in Columbus was 76 degrees F. But I toughed it out, and refused to plug in my computer room floor fan. With no web-cam plugged in, you never let them see you sweat.

+ The evening news showed an outdoor classroom at Lakewood Elementary School in Phenix City. We knew Alabama's Governor wanted to save money by getting back to the basics of education -- but reducing the lighting bill seems like a bit much.

+ The interim Columbus Finance Director promised to start submitting regular budget reports. The City Manager will get one every month. Columbus Council will get one every quarter. And Columbus journalists will get one every time they have the money to file legal documents.

+ The Macon City Council considered a proposal to fine panhandlers 500 dollars. Who came up with this idea?! They'll have to beg three times as hard, to raise the money.

+ Former President Jimmy Carter appeared on the PBS "NewsHour," and accused the Bush administration of doing nothing to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace in six years. With all due respect, Mr. President - have you noticed our government has been busy with other things? They're called Iraq and Afghanistan....

+ Louisville head football coach Bob Petrino said he is NOT interested in taking over at Alabama. I'm not sure if he's simply happy with his current job - or if he doesn't want to see Auburn trustee Bobby Lowder, even once a year from a distance.

+ The Auburn men's basketball team needed a big comeback plus overtime to beat Nicholls State of Louisiana -- at home. I wouldn't bet any Nicholls on the Tigers winning the Southeastern Conference title....

+ Hockey's Atlanta Thrashers beat the New York Rangers 5-4 in overtime. The winning goal was scored by Bobby Holik, the 300th of his career. But I'm not inviting him to my home - because as we all know, a Holik can waste energy.

(At one critical point late in the game, Thrashers radio announcer Dan Kamal twice yelled "SIT DOWN!" to the boisterous Madison Square Garden crowd. I thought that arena had press boxes for the broadcasters - but maybe they've been turned into skyboxes for all of Donald Trump's assistants.)

+ Instant Message to Jared from Subway: Congratulations! By putting down Burger King's "BK Stackers," you win the prize for the first attack ad of the Georgia runoff.

COMING THURSDAY: We're asked to evaluate an updated local web site....

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006


No, today's entry is NOT a reminder to put me on your list for year-end cards. I receive plenty of cards in the mail throughout the year. About 15 of them are fake promotional credit cards from Capital One....

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Your blog has learned a campaign is beginning to build an Iraq War Veterans Memorial in Columbus. Our apologies to the Third Brigade at Fort Benning for mentioning this -- because you probably want your next tour of duty in Iraq to be as comfortable and carefree as possible.

The Iraq War Veterans Memorial is a project of the "Richard Thomas Davis Foundation for Peace" - named for the veteran who was murdered by fellow Fort Benning soldiers three years ago. Davis's killers probably are more concerned right now about building a foundation for appeals.

The family of Richard Davis is creating this foundation through public donations, and promoting it through the web site of North Georgia author Cilla McCain. We told you in September [15 Sep] she's working on a possible book about the Davis murder case. Somehow I do NOT think the title will be, "If They Did It, Here's How It Happened."

The web page explaining the "Foundation for Peace" says it is NOT pro- or anti-war. Instead, its focus is to make sure military personnel are screened for mental problems and criminal histories before they're admitted. That's the part of the military draft proposal Rep. Charles Rangel didn't bother to tell you about.

The family of Richard Davis isn't sure yet how the Iraq War Veterans Memorial would look. One idea is to have a water fountain, which would be only fitting for the "Fountain City" of Columbus. In fact, we found a prime location a couple of weeks ago -- when that water main was broken at the airport.

When she informed us about plans for the Iraq War Veterans Memorial, Cilla McCain also had an update on plans for a movie about the Richard Davis murder case. The fictionalized story has been given the title "In the Valley of Elah" - borrowing from the Biblical location where David took on Goliath. Trouble is, modern-day Iraq is more like fighting a Biblical beast with seven heads.

There might actually be two movies about the Richard Davis case. Cilla McCain tells me the screenwriter of "In the Valley of Elah" wants to turn her book notes into a documentary. If this comes out during the 2008 Presidential campaign, we might learn whatever happened to the "Swift Boat Veterans for Peace."

By the way, don't be surprised if the Ledger-Enquirer begins calling events in Iraq a "civil war." Parent company McClatchy Newspapers used the phrase on its web site Monday, and an executive told National Public Radio that's what the situation has become. In a strange way, support for U.S. involvement in rural parts of south Georgia now might increase....

(My pastor would tell you there's no such thing as a "civil" war. And let's face it, some of the reports from Iraq have been more criminal than civil.)

But back to honoring veterans: a public hearing in Talbot County Monday night focused on plans for a veterans' care center. Some homeowners near Lake Talbot in Box Springs don't want the center in their neighborhood. They'd probably take the War Memorial - but not the people who fought in it.

Dozens of homeowners in the Box Springs area expressed concern the proposed 300-bed care will take in homeless drug addicts and mentally unstable veterans. And while they're at it, the bars can stay in downtown Columbus as well.

It was surprising to see even some military veterans are opposed to this Talbot County care center. One of them said the center is for veterans, but "it's not for Box Springs." So is there any space left around West Central Georgia Regional Hospital?

E-MAIL UPDATE: Monday's InBox had a few media items, which have readers asking questions:

Have you noticed the word "Saturday" is "Saterday" in the Carl Gregory Honda commercial..Have I been spelling it wrong all my life?

No, your spelling of Saturday seems to be correct. My computer SpellCheck agrees with you. Maybe the people who made the commercial paid more attention to that tiny fine print at the bottom of the screen.

Now from television to movies....

I know I must be losing it now, A new "Rocky" movie is coming out.

IS this the revenge of AARP.

It very well could be - especially if the round cards carried around the boxing ring have the American Association of Retired Persons' logo on them. Product placement is very important, you know.

This movie series DOES seem to be showing its age. Have you noticed the upcoming film is titled "Rocky Balboa"? It's like they've forgotten how many Roman numerals they used before.

Now for some newer (or maybe just about as new) items, from the Monday news:

+ Advance voting opened for next week's Georgia runoff. With only two local races and one state race on the ballot, the Columbus Public Library polling place should stay about as quiet as usual.

+ Muscogee County School Superintendent John Phillips told WRBL he's going to Washington today to ask Congress for more than 200 million dollars. If anyone in Columbus is happy to see big-spending Democrats take control of Congress, it's this man.

+ Uptown Columbus announced Broadway is now fully open to cars, from 10th to 14th Streets. But there's still some "Streetscape" work to do on sidewalks in the 1000 block - so joggers such as me still are at risk of tripping over bulldozers.

+ Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley told WRBL deer collisions are up 62 percent this month, compared with last November. If this trend continues, I may actually go buy a shotgun and settle this myself.

+ The University of Alabama fired head football coach Mike Shula. Athletic Director Mal Moore promised to find a "proven" coach with "a winning record." I think Mike Price still qualifies, at Texas-El Paso....

(As Mike Shula was fired, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution projected Alabama will play in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. Shouldn't there be a law about this? If your coach gets shown the door, you can't play ball any more.)

+ The indoor football Columbus Lions signed former Fort Valley State player Joe Kegler. I'm surprised he played at a small college - because with a name like "Kegler," you'd think he would go bowling at least once.

+ Instant Message to William Howell of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition: It's been three months since you made that big challenge to the mayoral candidates about settling the Kenneth Walker case [27 Aug]. Are you finally ready to endorse somebody -- three weeks after the election?

SONG OF THE DAY: November is National Hospice Month. So instead of wishing you a Merry Christmas, here's what we'll do....

We wish you a happy hospice!

We wish you a happy hospice!

We wish you a happy hospice -

And may you get well soon!

Full payment we wish, from the Medicare plan.

Full payment for treatment, until you get well soon!

Today's main item was the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Monday, November 27, 2006


"Film is cheap. Opportunity is expensive." This deep statement was made to me, at a wedding I attended over the weekend. You expect profound comments to come from a pastor -- only this one came from the wedding photographer.

While I was NOT invited to Judge Bobby Peters's wedding somewhere in the Caribbean, I was invited to one at Wynnbrook Baptist Church near River Road. The church gained fame in the recent mayoral election, as the polling place of both Bob Poydasheff and Jim Wetherington. But I didn't spot a leftover Christian Coalition "voter guide" in the lobby.

Saturday night's wedding was a first for me, and I never knew it until the middle of the ceremony. The officiating pastor said Ron Luker and new wife Shirley Sullivan met on the Internet in June 2005. Considering the bride has grandchildren, this was even more amazing - as yes, older people DO know how to go online.

I asked one of the bride's daughters if Ron and Shirley had used one of those Internet dating services. She didn't think so, guessing the couple met in some sort of chat room. And here I thought "LOL" meant laugh out loud - not loving online.

The way Ron and Shirley met was interesting to me, because my pastor at church said during a summer sermon God doesn't use dating web sites such as to bring couples together [6 Aug]. If they simply met in a chat room, I suppose that would be different -- and you know, I'm long overdue to play online card games.

(I mentioned the pastor's eHarmony comment at a table of single people during a recent church convention - and was amazed by how quickly the woman next to me changed the topic. She was more interested in the man to her right, anyway....)

About 40 to 50 people attended Ron and Shirley's wedding in the Wynnbrook Baptist Church worship center. The group didn't come close to filling all the pews. That's the peril of scheduling your ceremony on the evening of the Georgia-Georgia Tech football game.

The ceremony itself was small, as there was no long line of wedding attendants. The groom's brother was best man, and the bride's sister was the maid/matron of honor. No, the wedding cake was NOT something thawed out from the Publix freezer....

The ceremony was so small that no one stood when the bride walked down the aisle. I had no program to know when she was coming, but the families didn't stand to offer any clues. Maybe they didn't want to block the views of photographers.

The short ceremony had a rather humorous moment -- as the couple snuck a kiss to each other after exchanging rings, before a woman sang "The Lord's Prayer." The pastor never told the groom he could kiss the bride. But then again, we WERE at a Baptist church....

A nice sit-down reception followed in what appeared to be the Wynnbrook Baptist School lunchroom. That's where I met the official photographer - and I couldn't resist asking him: "If you're the paparazzi, where's your helicopter?"

The photographer happened to have three different cameras for the ceremony - two old-fashioned kinds which looked like 35-millimeter, and a smaller digital. He had enough film and room to shoot everyone at the reception twice, to prove we all were there.

The evening ended with everyone blowing bubbles at the bride and groom. If you didn't know, bubbles have become the new birdseed at weddings. We did this when one of my nieces became married four years ago - but this weekend, I felt far more interested in taking a tub bath when I got home.

Our best wishes to Ron and Shirley, as they begin married life together. But don't you wonder a little if they'll have separate computers?

After a Thanksgiving weekend dominated by wedding news, we have other things to discuss:

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported the Columbus Police "vice squad" was reorganized a few months ago, after an officer filed a harassment complaint. It's now called the "Special Operations Unit" - a name which probably needed the approval of Fort Benning generals.

+ Columbus Police reported a customer was robbed inside the Wynnton Road Burger King - not the restaurant, but a customer. Maybe the robber was afraid if he went to the counter, he might see that mascot with the giant king head.

+ The evening news reported two Phenix City girls will appear in the 2007 "Hottest Hots" calendar. They'd better not sell that calendar around Club Roc, because they might wind up under arrest.

+ Weekend performances of "The Nutcracker" ballet concluded at the RiverCenter. Hopefully this production had a proper Columbus look - with toy soldiers dressed like the Third Brigade.

+ WRBL presented a special report on youth league baseball pitching. A St. Francis Hospital specialist claimed you can be "a good Little League pitcher and a good high school pitcher, but you probably can't be both." Someone should give him the phone number of Bryan Woodall, from Phenix City's 1999 Little League World Series. It's Plainsman Park, at Auburn University....

+ The Atlanta Falcons lost their fourth game in a row, 31-13 to New Orleans. A Columbus man's name was drawn on the Falcons radio broadcast to win free airline tickets, if the team made a touchdown of 50 yards or longer. But Michael Vick's long run seemed to fall short by (ahem) the length of his middle finger....

(Michael Vick apparently showed that finger to upset Georgia Dome fans, after the loss to New Orleans. This is absolutely the wrong way to remind people that you were once the number-one draft pick.)

+ Instant Message to the NCAA office: I have this great idea for college basketball. Have a "title belt," like boxing. When the defending national champion loses its first game, the team which beats them takes over the title. That way, my old school Kansas would be the champions right now -- and have something shiny to prove it.

COMING TUESDAY: We reveal plans for a new Columbus landmark....

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Sunday, November 26, 2006


If someone hadn't pointed it out, I would have missed the most interesting news item of Thanksgiving weekend. It's news that could break the hearts of single women across Columbus - and if they're reading this: I'm listed in every Columbus phone book....

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Muscogee County Judge Bobby Peters confirmed to your blog Saturday that he is now married. The wedding actually was announced with an ad in Thursday's newspaper -- but you know how some of those College Republicans can pull funny pranks.

In case you missed this big announcement: go to the middle of the Local News section of Thursday's Ledger-Enquirer. There's a small ad on page nine, showing Judge Bobby Peters and his new bride. Isn't he sneaky - sliding that ad into the Thanksgiving paper, when most readers are looking through dozens of pull-out sections?

Judge Bobby Peters told me the newspaper ad is accurate, and he married Yongmi Kim recently during a Caribbean cruise. We can understand why he had the wedding outside the country. A Columbus wedding would have been the local equivalent of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes - and who knows how many photographers might have hurt each other.

If you're new to Columbus, let's explain: Bobby Peters went from Columbus Council to two terms as Mayor, then was elected Superior Court Judge. And through it all, he built a reputation (true or not) of being a very eligible bachelor. But admittedly, I don't recall ever hearing about him dating a "C-Town Hottie" from The Edge Magazine.

For some people, it became a local spectator sport to figure out whom Bobby Peters was dating. I even took a call on a Saturday night, about Peters being spotted with a woman on his First Avenue front porch. The fact that I was home to take this call made me feel SO inferior....

After he was elected Judge, the Bobby Peters "date watch" diminished quite a bit. In September he told this blog about how he had a very full schedule on the job [15 Sep]. Shame on me - I didn't ask how busy his weekends were.

With very few sightings of Judge Bobby Peters outside the courtroom, the Thanksgiving Day ad announcing his marriage was a big surprise. On a local level, it rivals the marriage of Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellweger - although I certainly hope the local wedding lasts much longer....

"She felt sorry for me," Judge Bobby Peters joked in a short phone call to the blog Saturday. I thought I could hear the former Yongmi Kim laughing in the background. She's taking the married name Kim Peters - which is surprising, because many women want to be a "young me" as long as possible.

"She's a sweet, smart lady," Judge Bobby Peters said of his bride. Yongmi Kim is a professor in the computer science department at Columbus State University. Her specialty is called "bioinformatics" -- which must be a high-tech of having that little talk (ahem) with your children....

Judge Bobby Peters left a message on my answering machine, confirming the newspaper ad. He didn't provide any extra details, except to say Yongmi Kim is "a good catch on my part." And as a one-time attorney, he probably offered her plenty of appeal.

We're still trying to pursue some missing details about the marriage of Bobby and Kim Peters. We don't know if they married at sea, or in some exotic Caribbean location. And we'd like to know how the couple met - although I've never really thought of the C.S.U. Cunningham Center's Carmen Cavezza as a matchmaker.

From a selfish point of view, I'm also hoping to get some dating and "catching" tips from Judge Bobby Peters. With his marriage, the other single men in Columbus all move one step up the ladder - and I'd rather become the "number-one contender" before I'm admitted to Muscogee Manor, not after.

We wish the newlyweds well as they combine furniture, not to mention lives - and move on to other holiday weekend news:

+ A memorial service was held at Shiloh Cemetery for the transplanted remains of Civil War veteran James Nathaniel Overbey. Relatives say he was the man who named the Flat Rock area of Columbus. I'm still trying to find the person who first mispronounced Buena Vista as "BYOO-nah."

(The memorial service for the Confederate Civil War veteran included a three-gun salute by family members. To the victor goes the spoils - like 18 more rounds of gunfire....)

+ Gas pumps reopened at the Dolly Madison bread store on Victory Drive, with a Columbus-low price of $2.05 a gallon. The pumps were closed for weeks, while some kind of underground repair work was done. Maybe there's a hybrid experiment going on here -- with animal fat from the Twinkies being mixed with fuel.

+ The Thanksgiving issue of "Eco Latino" said absolutely nothing about the S.O.A. Watch protest. Why not?! Don't Hispanic readers care about human rights abuses in Latin America? Or is it because absolutely no Hispanic residents on the south side of Columbus joined in the protest?

+ The Budweiser Clydesdale touring horses made an appearance at the Peach Bowl lanes in Columbus. When you show up late for the Steeplechase, you take your fun any way you can find it....

+ Georgia beat Georgia Tech in college football 15-12. Tech quarterback Reggie Ball lost to the Bulldogs for the fourth year in a row - and after that many misses, Ball's four means he must take a walk.

(Georgia Tech goes on to face Wake Forest next Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Why do I have a feeling the Bowl Championship Series people want Boise State to show up in Jacksonville, and challenge the combined teams to a game?)

+ Legendary quarterback Archie Manning suggested Auburn's Tommy Tuberville as a candidate to become head coach at the University of Miami. Manning noted on CBS's "College Football Today" Tuberville coached in Miami for eight years. Somewhere Bobby Lowder and David Housel said, "NOW we learn this! We went to the wrong city!"

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths flipped Florida 5-1, on "Northern Little League Night" at the Civic Center. OK, it's been three months now. Is there anyplace left in Columbus which has NOT honored the Little League champions? Hurry up, or you're going to have to wait for the five-year reunion -- at much higher rates.

+ Instant Message to WURY-FM "Radio 74:" Thank you for coming to your senses late Saturday night. Just because department stores are playing non-stop Christmas music did NOT mean you had to do it, too. Let WGSY "Sunny 100" take all the heat for awhile....

COMING MONDAY: More weekend wedding news.... although this item admittedly doesn't have a famous name....

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Thursday, November 23, 2006


If you're reading this at 4:30 a.m. before heading for a Friday sale - and my "Statcounter" can check such things - think this over a second. There's still time to change your mind about this. There's still time to go back to bed, and get up at 7:30 like normal people do on holidays. Believe me, the store shelves will NOT be barren and empty....

"Insanely early" is the exact language Sears used in its online banner ads Thursday, promoting its after-Thanksgiving specials. Sears, Wal-Mart, Goody's, Circuit City and numerous other stores chose to open their doors at 5:00 a.m. - letting the general public know for one day what it's like to be in basic training at Fort Benning.

Peachtree Mall tends to open at 6:00 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving - and I know from experience that the mall expects TV cameras to be on hand for the occasion. But why not? It's probably the biggest crowd to show up since "Family Day in the Park" back in June.

On the other hand, did you hear what eBay has declared today? It's "National Sleep-In Day," apparently because you'll avoid the mall and buy things at that web site. What's the going rate for PlayStation 3 systems in auctions right now - $4,000?

I don't know who started the idea of "insanely early" opening times on Thanksgiving Friday - but it truly has become insane. The department stores open even before fast-food places open for breakfast. So I think this is all a big conspiracy with Golden Donuts and Waffle House.

Thanksgiving Friday has become SO insane that Opelika Police have set up a "mobile command center" at the Tigertown shopping center for the weekend. I've never heard of so much preparation, to keep grown-ups from fighting over Elmo dolls.

A few hints of insanity were noticeable in Columbus Thursday. But let me make clear: not all of it was bad. When the high temperature is 71 degrees F. on Thanksgiving Day, that's a downright welcome blessing....

Since I wasn't invited out for Thanksgiving dinner, I had to create some holiday fun of my own. That may be one disadvantage of being a blogger -- families may be concerned the quality of their sweet potatoes will be posted all over the Internet.

So instead, I had a racquetball workout around midday in the warm sunshine. Then for perhaps the first time ever, I went to Thanksgiving dinner in a T-shirt and running shorts. Elastic waistbands allow room for more food, you know....

As I drove to dinner, I noticed an insane Columbus tradition was continuing - as no radio station broadcast the Thanksgiving Day football games. In fact, WEAM-AM was off the air Thursday night when I tried to listen to the Cottonmouths hockey game. I wanted to know if the Civic Center had the only frozen turkeys left in town.

Shoney's in Phenix City was the choice for Thanksgiving dinner, as it offered a full-meal buffet for $8.99. The staff was so nice that three people came by to ask what I wanted to drink. Top-dollar restaurants such as Caffe Amici usually stop at two.

Shoney's was fairly busy at around 2:00 p.m., but I could hear the piped-in music - seemingly all Christmas music. Talk about insanity! The Christian FM stations in this city won't even start playing that for another week....

From listening around my booth while eating Thanksgiving dinner, it became clear the holiday was a bit insane for other customers. One woman sat down, and actually asked the server what city she was in. It's time Phenix City made those 1999 Little League championship signs a little bigger.

This woman apparently was having radiator problems, because she called someone on her cell phone and mentioned overheating. She was bound for a Thanksgiving dinner in another town, because she asked the woman at Shoney's for a basket of fish and chips to go -- and she didn't even talk with a British accent.

The "buffet de Sho-NAY" (to use proper-sounding French) provided all the things you'd expect for a traditional holiday dinner - along with some surprises. When did it become commonplace to eat shrimp on Thanksgiving? I'm admittedly not a Gulf Coast kind of guy - but those shrimp must be hard to stuff with cornbread dressing.

Another surprise was that the Shoney's buffet had only one kind of pie for dessert - a hearty pumpkin, instead of pecan. And the whipped topping was in a buffet pan, which meant it stuck to the serving spoon as much as the mashed potatoes did.

( I mentioned this on the phone to my older brother in Kansas City Thursday night, and he asked why I didn't ask for other kinds of pie. C'mon, it's Thanksgiving Day. Just because I don't join in Friday shopping doesn't mean I can grumble a day early.)

Other than that, the Shoney's Thanksgiving buffet was nice. You could eat all you wished, with no concern about leftovers when you were through - not to mention the 90 minutes of football you might miss by hand-washing the dishes.

The last surprise at Shoney's came when I noticed the servers' name tags. The Phenix City restaurant actually has a server named Alabama. You'd think someone named Auburn would have been on hand, for balance....

BLOG CORRECTION: A couple of e-mailers caught a mistake we made Wednesday....

The aquarium was funded by [Arthur] Blank's old Home Depot partner Bernie Marcus.

Thank you for reminding me - and to be honest, I wasn't sure if I was putting the right person's name on the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. After awhile, all these billionaires start looking alike to me.

E-MAIL UPDATE: The InBox also has this touching tale about a supermarket:

Today in the Winn Dixie store on Macon Rd the manager was talking to an elderly lady in a wheel chair grocery buggy...She was telling him she drove to the store,but didn't think she could drive home..He got down on his knees to talk to her face to face..He told her he would take her home and one of the workers would drive him back..He asked her about her groceries because the cart was empty..She said she needed a few things. He said he could arrange that and someone would push her around..He was the nicest guy..That could have been your mom or grandmother. THe Winn Dixie Spirit is alive and well ..

It's nice to know that spirit somehow survived the Winn-Dixie bankruptcy filing -- because the stores in Phenix City and Opelika certainly didn't.

So what other leftovers remain from Thanksgiving Day? Let's see....

+ The House of Mercy served holiday meals to about 500 needy people. The Valley Rescue Mission claims it served about 700 people, including mission visitors and shut-ins. There was no word Thursday night from the Salvation Army - so we still don't know if any charity did better than God Bless Fort Benning and S.O.A. Watch.

+ A special Thanksgiving infomercial from Rivertown Ford on WXTX showed "Put-It-On-Sale Mike" eating crow, as he promised he would if Auburn won the Iron Bowl. Mike declared it did NOT taste good - but I noticed he didn't try to bite the dancing turkey even once.

+ Instant Message to WGSY "Sunny 100 FM": Have you checked the TV commercials you're running - or will Reggie Foster and Alan Quin hold reunion shows during December? Besides, Georgia Freight seemed to find someone hotter to take Reggie's place....

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Don't look at me -- when the police call came, I was several miles away. I was nowhere near the shooting, less than one block from my home. And no, I don't think it involved any of my neighbors who go hunting with their BB guns....

Columbus Police were called to 20 Fifth Street in the Historic District shortly after midnight Wednesday because of a shooting. It's down the street and around the corner from where I live. But I had been called for an emergency assignment, and missed the gunfire by about 20 minutes. I didn't even spit out the window in that direction, to leave any DNA.

At first, police thought the shooting on Fifth Street was the result of a drug deal. It's not yet clear if that's what happened -- because the man who was shot wouldn't answer any police questions. Waiting until Jim Wetherington becomes Mayor is absolutely the wrong strategy....

Police told the evening news 21-year-old William Tarver not only was shot in both arms - he was arrested after receiving hospital treatment. So he's at a real disadvantage, if jail inmates decide to work off Thanksgiving dinner with some fighting.

Police say William Tarver had some kind of "outstanding warrants" against him, so he was arrested after he was shot. That apparently explains why he wouldn't answer questions - unless he's suddenly decided to act like the City Manager with TV reporters.

For some reason, I was not all that stunned when I heard about the shooting on Fifth Street. It happened in the middle of a series of homes which were renovated recently, but still look very basic. There was a reason why you parked there, while the Riverfest party was among the nicer homes of Broadway....

I've jogged and walked past the homes on Fifth Street just east of Broadway. There was no sign that any criminals lurked inside. Even Wednesday afternoon when I drove by, a children's basketball goal was set up at the end of a driveway. But then again, maybe the children are mimicking gun-toting N.B.A. players like Stephen Jackson.

(Yes, I said "drove by." My Wednesday evening jog could have taken me down that part of Fifth Street, but I admittedly went a different direction. Someone might have stopped me, and checked for hidden police microphones.)

No police tape or signs of a crime were evident at 20 Fifth Street. A group of men was outside next door, preparing dinner as if nothing ever happened. They might sit out there and pretend to solve the world's problems - but what did they do about the one right next to them?

The only sign of trashiness I've noticed along that part of Fifth Street was a curious discovery several months ago. Someone tossed a thick glass on the lawn at First Avenue, like something used to serve beer in a bar. After walking past it a few times, I picked it up and took it home. If the Cannon Brew Pub lost it, they should put their logo on it.

But admittedly, my neighborhood has received visits from police over the years. Someone in my own apartment complex was shot several years ago - but it happened during summer, and my air conditioner and fans kept me from hearing anything. If the ambulance didn't blink red lights as it backed up across the courtyard, I might have missed the whole thing.

Some people have wondered over the years why I don't move out of the Historic District into a "nicer" part of Columbus. But I'm a short walk from South Commons, downtown attractions, the Riverwalk -- and besides, didn't the e-mails from "IsOurCitySafe" convince people there ARE no nice and safe parts of town?

So I give thanks for where I am on this Thanksgiving Day, while checking other items from Wednesday:

+ Fort Benning's commissary served a pre-Thanksgiving feast to soldiers. WRBL reported the staff prepared 9,300 pounds of turkey, as well as more than 3,000 pounds of prime rib. Being a general has its privileges, you know....

+ Columbus Water Works confirmed a spill at a Fort Benning plant poured about 20,000 gallons of sewage into Upatoi Creek. But officials said it was no environmental problem, and "not major." So much for asking their crew to clean up my next water heater leak.

+ Georgia environmental experts concluded the West Point water supply was NOT contaminated by anything last week. So how did that mysterious foam show up? Did someone find an ingenious way to save money on laundry day?

+ Alabama Republican leaders announced they'll support Auburn's Mike Hubbard becoming state G.O.P. Chairman. After watching the attack ads against Hubbard this fall, this could mean the number of defections to the Democrats will increase. All it will take is one wrong vote....

+ Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore responded to all the recent rumors by saying, "All aspects of the football program are being evaluated." So Mike Shula might remain head coach, but with all the home games moving back to Birmingham.

+ Instant Message to all our readers: Since it's Thanksgiving Day, we give sincere thanks to all of you. You've helped this become the most talked-about blog in the area, with visitors from coast to coast and around the world. But I wonder if our visitors from Iceland think the crazy events in Columbus are due to the warm climate.

COMING FRIDAY: An e-mail check we couldn't make Wednesday night, because of Yahoo problems....

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Columbus Council heard Tuesday about yet another department that's lacking in money. This time it's Columbus Water Works, and there's a deficit well into eight figures. You'd think a good lawsuit against Alabama and Florida would make up for that....

Columbus Water Works President Billy Turner told WRBL the utility needs a rate increase, because it has a deficit of 16 million dollars. Someone on the staff should have suggested everyone play that recent McDonald's game - you know, "Monopoly."

(I may have suggested it before, but how about a "Monopoly Month" at Columbus Water Works? Have customers roll dice to determine how much they pay - and the wealthy folks who own more than one house have to pay ten times the amount shown.)

How did Columbus Water Works wind up with so much red ink? Billy Turner explains costs keep rising for things such as energy and pipes. And if construction crews don't watch where they dig around the airport, the pipe bill will move ahead.

Columbus Water Works seems to be cutting back in some areas. Did you notice the flier with the November bill? I didn't until the other day, when I looked on the back side - and suddenly realized the utility apparently is doing without a proofreader.

But when it comes to the 16-million dollar gap, Columbus water customers will have to provide the difference. Water Works President Billy Turner says monthly bills will increase by at least one dollar a month come January. So this leaves a tough choice -- to empty those 55-gallon drums you filled with low-priced gasoline, or not?

In fact, Columbus Water Works apparently has been promised rate increases for years to come. But this is where it gets confusing. The TV news report said five years of increases began in 2002 - then added the upcoming increase is one of a series lasting until 2012. If the journalists aren't sure about this, you can be pretty sure the city finance officers aren't sure either.

If you're a low-income customer, Columbus Water Works is offering some help. Starting in January, you can receive a monthly credit on your water bill of $3.50 a month. This will be fine, as long as the prices on the Wendy's Value Menu don't go up.

They're also talking about water in Phenix City. The city council discussed a proposal this week to merge the water department with Russell County. Swapping water for homeless animals seems like a very strange deal to me....

A sudden change of plans keeps us from commenting more on this - so we'll quickly wrap up other news from Tuesday:

+ WRBL's Bob Jeswald declared during the 5:00 p.m. news it was "knit cap" weather - then pulled out a Buffalo Bills cap to prove it. Now I'm concerned we could get "lake effect snow" from Lake Harding.

+ A spokesman for Country's Barbecue told the evening news it's already out of "souffle" for Thanksgiving. If this forces you to change dinner plans, we have some advice. Please make sure your blender lid fits securely before you add the yams and turn it on.

+ Area high school students participated in a "model United Nations" at Columbus State University. So which teenager had the honor of playing Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and insulting President Bush?

+ The Carver-Spencer high school basketball game was postponed until further notice. The Ledger-Enquirer claimed this was because of Carver's upcoming football playoff game on Friday night. So what's the real story here? Is the school district afraid a rumble will break out, and get half the football players suspended?

+ The Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta marked its first anniversary. The aquarium was built from a big donation by Arthur Blank. But I think the celebration has gone too far - because Blank's Atlanta Falcons have gone in the tank three weeks in a row.

+ Instant Message to Goody's: Did I hear your commercial correctly? The "Pre-Thanksgiving Sale" STARTS today?! Were you too busy to start this a week or two ago?

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I'm not normally one to engage in bathroom humor. I might tell jokes at church, in an office, while standing in line at a checkout - but not normally in the bathroom....

But today I'm stooping to "bathroom humor," after hearing Monday about two new public restrooms planned at the University of Georgia. The restrooms will be designated as "gender-neutral." Some will consider this a big deal - but wait a second. Are the bathrooms where YOU live marked as male and female?

The reason why some people will consider this a big deal is because the University of Georgia's office for "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender" students asked for gender-neutral restrooms in their building. This puts a whole new meaning on an old Fleetwood Mac song - "Go Your Own Way."

Apparently the University of Georgia already had a few restrooms considered "unisex." I think that means if you lock the door behind you, it doesn't really matter....

But these two new restrooms in Athens's Memorial Hall actually will be marked with images of both men and women. How many dating college couples will pass this, and be disappointed to find there's no couch or bed inside?

An assistant dean at the University of Georgia says the two new restrooms are set aside to make transgender students are not harassed or abused. Well, what do you know -- an admission that some students can have hetero-phobia.

Supporters of the new "gender-neutral" restrooms say they'll have other advantages. For one thing, mothers will be able to take little boys inside. When I was young, my mom took me to the women's room at a doctor's office several times. She even let me go once or twice by myself - and I'm not sure if anyone ever talked with her about it.

Some people even argue women can use the "gender-neutral" restrooms when lines are long to use the "ladies' rooms." They'd better hope men rushing between classes don't race them to the door handle....

So could Columbus use this sort of "gender-neutral" restroom? To be honest several places have it already. A few coin laundries have a single restroom in the back - but they don't even have flowery paper towels, to tip you off about which gender is preferred.

Several gas stations and convenience stores have had a similar set-up for years, with only one bathroom for customers. But you KNOW those are for men - by (ahem) what the vending machines on the walls are offering....

But if I come across a real "gender-neutral" restroom with images of both men and women, I'll probably stay away. After all, I have a 50-50 chance of walking into something very wrong - well, maybe worse odds than that.

BLOG UPDATE: The old numbers game was in full force Monday, after the two big weekend events. Columbus Police told WRBL only about 15,000 people attended the S.O.A. Watch protest - not the 22,000 claimed by the organizers. That'll teach those marchers to count giant puppets.

Meanwhile, God Bless Fort Benning declared it had a "record turnout" Saturday - with WRBL reporting 18,000 to 20,000 "soldiers and families." But we noted from the event's own web site Monday that last year's attendance last year was 25,000 to 30,000 people. If you change how you count, I suppose anything can be a record - so maybe next year, pets will be counted as well.

The arrested S.O.A. Watch protesters apparently were sent to the Harris County Jail this year, not the Muscogee County Jail downtown. Why were they moved a full county away - so they could explain Latin American human rights abuses to Internet sex predators?

One arrested protester from West Virginia apparently refused to post bond, and was being transferred to the Muscogee County Jail Monday. Well, that WILL save a little money on Thanksgiving dinner....

Now let's count down the last few items from Monday:

+ WRBL reported the Phenix City Council reviewed sketches for "The Phenixian" development along the river. The plans include ten-story condominiums - buildings which sound almost as tall as the Columbus Government Center. So Carolyn Hugley had better act professionally, when she visits the City Manager's office....

+ West Point city officials ruled the drinking water is safe again. But they're still not sure what caused foam on the water at a treatment plant last Friday. You don't think some Auburn University students drove the wrong way, heading for the Iron Bowl....?!

+ The Columbus State men's basketball team beat Virginia State 83-73, to give Coach Doug Branson his first win. In a post-game interview on WDAK radio, Branson urged Columbus fans to "get off the couch" and see the Cougars this coming weekend. They'll be off the couch, coach - and busy down the hill, shopping at the mall.

SONG OF THE DAY: Today's song is an oldie from 1995, and is inspired by the sudden cancellation of the O.J. Simpson book and TV special. During his mostly-live murder trial on CNN, we put new words on the Bugs Bunny Show theme, "On With the Show, This Is It:"

Bloody glove - D.N.A.

The white Ford Bronco, that drove away.

Nicole and O.J., they once had a fight -

But what happened that June night?

Ronald Goldman, her good friend,

Stabbed over and over again.

To prison he could goooo....

This is O.J. Simpson's show!

(P.S. Instant Message to WXTX Fox-54: IF you had aired it, I probably wouldn't have watched....)

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Monday, November 20, 2006


Sunday was NOT a day for "One Columbus" - not with one main event at Green Island, and another bigger one at the old Southgate Apartments. Well, hold on a minute. Maybe "One Columbus" was all at Green Island - and the bigger crowd was all from out of town.

S.O.A. Watch estimates more than 22,000 people showed up for this year's protest outside the main gate of Fort Benning. As of Sunday night, 16 arrests were reported - which I think made this demonstration a lot more peaceful per person than the crowd at the Iron Bowl.

A couple of "stars" attended this year's S.O.A. Watch protest. One of them was Emily Sailers of the rock duo Indigo Girls. I never realized how forward-thinking this duo was, until I checked my computer thesaurus - and found indigo is a shade of Democratic blue.

Another big name at the S.O.A. Watch demonstration was Charles Steele, the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Apparently the definition of "Southern Christian" is expanding, to include believers in South America.

Charles Steele was honorary chair of a weeklong "Living the Dream" march, which traveled to Fort Benning from Selma, Alabama. The marchers oppose war and injustice - and we hope they send a delegation to Iraq soon, to persuade the insurgents to join them.

(So after Charles Steele come to Fort Benning to protest against abuses in Latin America, did he visit the family of Kenneth Walker? If he didn't, what does that mean for this case -- especially since I don't recall seeing Roy Bourgeois at any of those old protest marches?)

This year for the first time, there was more than one S.O.A. Watch event. Parallel protests were held in seven other countries, and reportedly also in Arizona and California. So those Victory Drive motels had better not jack up the room rates next year....

I didn't realize until I checked the S.O.A. Watch web site how much money is spent to hold the annual protest. Putting it on costs $45,000 - which I suppose could have been raised by the protesters donating the money they would have spent on Sunday dinner.

A blog kept on the S.O.A. Watch web site reported a military helicopter flew very low over the vigil at one point, apparently trying to drown out the loudspeakers. Last November, I was able to hear the Fort Benning protesters at Pacelli High School - so people living on the south side of Columbus may have made a special request for this.

Protesters outside Fort Benning say the U.S. House came within 15 votes last year of cutting money for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Fort Benning and the protesters dispute even about whether WHINSEC replaced the School of the Americas. No one seems to dispute it, when Benning changes from one Commanding General to another.

Again this year, WHINSEC invited protesters onto Fort Benning to tour the institute and ask questions about it. One Fort Benning officer admitted to the demonstrators they reminded her of a "time warp." But then again, some of the protesters are comparing Iraq with Vietnam....

Plenty of law officers were in South Columbus to make sure the S.O.A. Watch protest was peaceful. I found one "command post" Sunday at Benning Park Recreation Center. It had a Marshal's Office car, a Sheriff's Office car, more police cars than usual, a Georgia State Patrol car which rolled through - why, it's probably the safest weekend of the year to live at Baker Village.

So what about that other big event Sunday? Green Island Country Club hosted the first "God Bless Fort Benning Remembrance Breakfast." Perhaps they remembered back to the first "God Bless" events a few years ago -- when organizers set up near the protesters, then wound up fleeing to South Commons.

S.O.A. Watch apparently won the contest for the biggest weekend crowd -- as God Bless Fort Benning organizers estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people attended their Saturday event. That was actually a big decline from the 25,000 to 30,000 of last year, which was posted on the event's web site. And it's surprising, since the Third Brigade hasn't left the area yet....

(But based on the schedule, God Bless Fort Benning clearly led in several areas -- such as the race for the most Boy Scouts and clogging dancers.)

While S.O.A. Watch had marching "Veterans for Peace," God Bless Fort Benning had military supporters on motorcycles. So our group could encircle your group and perform "psych-ops" anytime they wanted....

While S.O.A. Watch had one stage with performers, God Bless Fort Benning had four. One of them was the "84 Lumber Stage" - which may have surprised people in the downtown area, who didn't even know Columbus has an 84 Lumber yard.

While God Bless Fort Benning had an area where visitors could "Hug a Hero," S.O.A. Watch had - well, what? "Pretend to Die with a Nun?"

(By the way, does anyone mind if I borrow the "Hug a Hero" line - the next time I'm invited to a singles party?)

While S.O.A. Watch had a guest speaker from the AFL-CIO, God Bless Fort Benning had several corporate and business sponsors. But after checking the "God Bless" schedule page online, I can see why they need a remembrance breakfast - because there's an ad there for the Columbus Riverdragons, which left town more than a year ago.

In a big surprise, this year's God Bless Fort Benning even had space reserved by CNN. If this cable network was there and not Fox News Channel, you can tell Democrats are taking charge of Congress.

People could register at God Bless Fort Benning to win a "CNN Warrior One" Hummer. I used to work at the CNN networks in Atlanta, and I am stunned -- STUNNED! -- by this. Ted Turner would have demanded a hybrid car, or something with better gas mileage.

We did the math, based on last year's sponsors listed by God Bless Fort Benning and proposed 2006 sponsor rates and budgets posted online. Saturday's event may have had about $116,000 in sponsors, but expenditures of about $238,000. No one said running an Army would make money -- but you'd think a patriotic display might.

Save for some federal court hearings today, the annual battle of ideas is over for another year. S.O.A. Watch will shift its focus to lobbying the new Congress. God Bless Fort Benning will prepare for bigger-name performers and sponsors. And Columbus Police will try to fill all their job openings, so the State Patrol can stay on Interstate 185 next November.

Believe it or not, other items of interest passed our way Sunday....

+ A dedication ceremony was held for the new North Columbus Elementary School - more than three months after it opened. Did it take THAT long to get all the traffic problems settled?

+ The annual "Night Walk" to benefit the March of Dimes was held at Callaway Gardens' "Fantasy of Lights" display. Callaway boasts the show has eight million lights. I wish they'd lend a few to the city of Columbus, so the Riverwalk would be safer.

+ The web site ranked Auburn ahead of Georgia, when it comes to the "most fun" universities. Auburn was aided by the fact that 26 percent of its students live in fraternities and sororities -- so this web site's motto must be "better Greek than geek."

+ The Atlanta Falcons lost their third game in a row, 24-10 at Baltimore. If you watched this game, you know the Ravens should pick up a new corporate sponsor for the rest of the season - because Sunday they were Sams' Club.

+ Atlanta's longtime FM radio station "96 Rock" changed formats after 32 years, turning into the modern rock "Project 9-6-1." Only in radio would people brag about becoming a project, or moving into one....

+ Instant Message to the new Rent-n-Roll store on Buena Vista Road: You're kidding, right? I actually can "rent to own" tires?!?! Can I bring them back if they go flat - since they'll obviously be defective?

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Sunday, November 19, 2006


It was such a dramatic Saturday in college football that it's hard to know where to begin. So I'll start with the rivalry which obviously matters most - and say: How about Kansas kicking Kansas State!?!!!

My old alma mater Kansas made itself eligible for a bowl game with a 39-20 squishing of.... what? What's that? What do you mean, this isn't The Blog of Kansas? Well, it's not The Blog of Tuscaloosa either - even though Auburn appears ready to annex it.

Auburn edged Alabama 22-15 to win its fifth Iron Bowl in a row. CBS noted the Tigers have never lost at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa - which should prove once and for all the Auburn fans were right, when they complained about that home-field advantage in Birmingham.

So what made the difference for Auburn on Saturday? A quick check of the roster should make it obvious. Auburn has a running back named Kenny Irons and a defensive back named David Irons. In the Iron Bowl, Alabama answered with.... well, who exactly?

Both Irons had key plays in the Iron Bowl win. Kenny Irons had an eight-yard run for a touchdown - and some of us wondered if he drew up the play Friday night with his new PlayStation 3 game system.

David Irons sealed the Iron Bowl triumph by intercepting a pass from Alabama's John Parker Wilson in the final 80 seconds. It wasn't a "pick six," but it certainly completed an Auburn "Fantasy Five."

(If you Alabamians need help understanding that last joke, do a Google search for "Georgia Lottery." I don't think it's a sin to do that.)

I hadn't heard until Saturday about the fuss over Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville wearing a "Beware the Thumb" T-shirt. If I had seen that, I probably wouldn't have thought of the Tigers going for five Iron Bowl wins in a row. I would have guessed Tuberville was concerned about President Ed Richardson firing him.

Auburn has beaten Alabama in five consecutive Iron Bowls, for the first time since the 1950's. That old string ended once Bear Bryant became head coach of the Crimson Tide. So hmmmm - does anyone have Mike Dubose's phone number?

Some Saturday night sportscasts dared to declare Alabama head coach Mike Shula was "on the hot seat." He's lost four Iron Bowls in a row, finished the regular season 6-6 - and the Miami Dolphins' coaching job may be open in a few weeks.

Despite going 6-6, Alabama still could wind up in a post-season bowl game. Early speculation has the Tide going to Shreveport, Louisiana - but some cruel Auburn fans might be rooting for them to go play in a Boise, Idaho snowstorm.

Auburn finishes the regular season 10-2. The Tigers might wind up at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, or the Outback Bowl in Tampa - where I believe the winning team takes home the world's largest Bloomin' Onion.

A check of the Auburn sports web site shows the Iron Bowl wasn't the only big rivalry win of the weekend. The Tiger men's and women's swimming teams beat Alabama - and combined, they've swept Alabama 11 times in a row. It's time the Crimson Tide lived up to its name, and installed a wave machine in the Auburn lanes of the pool.

There will be an interesting Iron Bowl P.S. on Columbus TV next weekend. A bet was made during the current Rivertown Ford infomercial - and because Auburn won, "Put It on Sale Mike" promises to eat crow on camera in the next episode. Why do I have this funny feeling he's going to eat a picture of Sheryl Crow instead....

Elsewhere, McClung Memorial Stadium hosted the annual "Peanut Bowl" of youth football Saturday. I didn't have a chance to attend this -- so does anyone know if the coaches of Carver and Shaw High Schools were there, recruiting five-year-olds?

And in that OTHER Columbus, Ohio State edged Michigan 42-39 to advance to the Bowl Championship Series title game. Did you notice how the Columbus police handled the crowds after the game was over? I've never seen a more organized effort to guard goal posts in my life....

E-MAIL UPDATE: This may look like an election leftover, but I think there's an explanation....

Not sure what Bob is still running for, but he has an ad on the Ledger website. I found it alternating with a Georgia Trend ad on every article on the Politics page.


Yeah, it does look strange. But think back to August, when Mayor Poydasheff opened his campaign headquarters [11 Aug]. He asked "for your vote on November the nineteenth." That's today -- so maybe he's hoping for a late rush to the polls. Admittedly, 12 days late....

And remember how we caught Bob Poydasheff's web site with 2002 information in early August [7 Aug]? His ad might just be at the Ledger-Enquirer's politics section for the next two years.

We noticed some other things happening around the area this weekend....

+ The annual "God Bless Fort Benning" event took place in and around the Columbus Civic Center. Soldiers were given the day off to attend -- but for some reason, the 86th Support Group was ordered to leave for Iraq Friday. Doesn't the Army understand there's a contest against SOA Watch to win?

+ WRBL showed hundreds of SOA Watch demonstrators spending Saturday night on Broadway. All they had to do was carry a beer in the wrong direction, and Columbus Police could have arrested them one day early.

+ Fire erupted at the Fred's store on Auburn Avenue -- and witnesses said a customer in the back of the store appeared to start it. As a public service, we urge shoppers NOT to test whether or not the pajamas are flame-retardant.

+ Workers at Goldens' Foundry downtown were tested for tuberculosis, after an employee developed the illness and died of something else. I'd be more interested in seeing the workers tested for lung cancer - and I'd really like to know if the Columbus Chamber of Commerce forgot about that plant, when its office was moved just up the avenue from it.

+ West Point declared a "level four water emergency" and urged residents to boil drinking water, after a mysterious substance was found in the system. Those sneaky North Korean spies....

+ WRBL's Saturday night newscast introduced a woman whom anchor Heather Jensen openly hoped would become a "permanent weekend meteorologist." So what happened to Mark Tauriello? Did the managers decide with his booming voice, he should do play-by-play of pro wrestling matches?

+ Davis Broadcasting held its annual 24-hour fund-raiser, so low-income children can have toys in December. Isn't this a curious event? The public is asked to donate for this cause, while the company can afford to buy new radio stations northwest of Atlanta....

+ Instant Message to everyone who found us through a blog based in New Zealand: Thank you for helping make this past week the busiest one on record for this blog. And for the record - no, I do NOT have ulcers. I listen to what my pastor says. I listen to what others say. And I drink plenty of liquids, so it all passes through.

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.02 a gallon at QV, Interstate 85 at Exit 57 in Auburn.... dinner rolls for one dollar a package at Kroger.... and FREE wooden souvenir crosses from Columbus Police at the Fort Benning main gate after 3:00 p.m.

COMING MONDAY: Columbus's biggest event of the year.... or should we say two?....

Thousands of visitors read this blog every month, in Columbus and around the world. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 3726 (+ 137, 3.8%)

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© 2003-06 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Friday, November 17, 2006


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

Two plates of food were stacked in one hand, with a beverage cup in the other. As I searched for a place to eat at a recent luncheon, I chose a wide-open empty table along a wall. Soccer coaches and players should understand this. You always move to the open space, as long as you're not offside.

After a couple of bites of lunch, a friend walked over to my otherwise-empty table. "Why are you sitting here all by yourself?" she asked.

I'd rehearsed the answer to myself before she came over. "When you're invited to a feast, you sit at the back. And you wait for someone to invite you up. I read that in a book once." Before you start guessing - no, my bookshelves have nothing by Miss Manners.

"I think you should move up," the woman told me - even offering to help carry a plate or cup. I was able to handle all of it by myself while changing tables. Single guys learn how to do this, even without balancing anything on their heads.

The woman was obviously concerned about my sitting all alone, while others were together at other tables. But in only a few minutes, the chairs around my place at the luncheon would have been filled with other diners. It would have been a "potluck" of people, if not main dishes.

But let's step back to what I told the concerned woman. Have you figured out what book I read, to learn about where to sit at feasts? This one stumps a lot of people - because they usually read this book to learn how to get close to heaven, not find a table for dinner on earth.

Believe it or not, the book which gives guidance on where to sit at a feast is the Bible. In fact, the advice came from Jesus in Mark 14. He said if you presume you deserve a nice seat, someone may be invited who will trump you. And if you've ever watched "The Apprentice," you know it's important not to be Trumped....

Why would Jesus stop for a moment in the Bible to give seating tips for banquets? His own words offer the answer. If you take a far-off or "lowest place" and wait to be invited up, you're showing an attitude of humility instead of pride. Humility is a lost trait nowadays. If you don't believe it, drive to this weekend's Iron Bowl game -- and check the fans, not the players.

This incident is especially timely because of the season we're in. Thanksgiving is this coming week, and the church I attend is having a pre-Thanksgiving dinner this weekend. The humble person should realize the need to be thankful - at least to other people, and hopefully to the One who gives all good things. We should note here that "One" is NOT named Santa Claus....

May this time of year find you not only thankful for your blessings, but humble enough to realize the need to thank someone for them. If you do that, it might be a stairstep to something nicer and better down the line. If you don't - well, there should be a chair open next to mine against the wall.

Thousands of visitors read this blog every month, in Columbus and around the world. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Do you get offers to fill out online surveys? I do all the time - and the other day one of the topics was telephone directories. It asked about old-fashioned phone books. It asked about online services. But I rejected any cookies, to let it steal my computer's address book.

One of the survey's questions asked if I recalled seeing a commercial with yellow airplanes and toothpaste. Yes, I did - but that was several months ago. For all I knew, that airline might be in bankruptcy court by now....

But seriously: the commercial was for YellowBook -- as was the apparent focus of the survey. But the survey reached me a little early, as the latest edition of that phone book only landed on my porch earlier this week. It was the first YellowBook I've ever received - so maybe they were too "yellow" to deliver them in my part of town before.

It's called the YellowBook for a reason - as not only is the cover's color scheme yellow, but the yellow pages are in front of the white pages. Most phone company directories have the white pages first. It's a bit scary when the attorneys get higher priority than real people....

So which new phone book is better - the YellowBook, or the traditional and reliable BellSouth book? Let's compare in some key areas, beginning of course with....

1. LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL. BellSouth shows the Northern All-Stars on the cover, moments after winning the World Series. It's a great collector's item -- as long as you very carefully remove that annoying stick-on ad for Groome Transportation.

YellowBook gives the Northern All-Stars a tribute on page 25, and includes scores and a roster -- but c'mon, behind a map of METRA routes?!

2. COUPONS. YellowBook has plenty of them in the back, for everything from a wide range of restaurants to a paint service. And North Highland Church even offers a "free gift" on your first visit. Do you think it's a thing called salvation?!

On the other hand, BellSouth's "RealSavings Coupons" are terrible. There's only one page, with six coupons from a gutter company. Not one of them offers a free ladder, so the crew doesn't have to visit you so often.

3. GLENWOOD SCHOOL. As we mentioned the other day, BellSouth spells it correctly in the listings this year - six-for-six. YellowBook goes five-for-six, misspelling it as "Glennwood" once in the yellow pages. So maybe BellSouth hired a better proofreader.

(Then again, I know BellSouth has a better proofreader - because YellowBook's coupons include a full page with addresses in "Phoenix." And why you'd need eight coupons for a moving and storage company, I have no idea....)

4. CITY MAPS. This is becoming an annoyance with me, and both books fall short here. The detailed maps in BellSouth's front section cover only three pages, and suggest no one lives south of Cusseta Road or north of Britt David Road. At least they offend both sides of town evenhandedly.

YellowBook claims an edge with eight pages of detailed maps, stretching all the way to Schatulga Road at the east edge of Columbus. They reach north to Weems Road, but end just short of Columbus Park Crossing. It's a wonder Kohl's and Sears have any business at all.

5. ATTORNEY ADS. BellSouth has 16 full pages of ads for lawyers, at the start of that listing in the yellow pages. YellowBook has three - so many people would say they have a better book.

6. COLLEGES. In the front "newcomers" section of the directories, BellSouth mentions Georgia Military College while YellowBook does not. And again this year, neither seems to know Beacon University exists.

7. PUBLISHERS. YellowBook includes "Columbus and the Valley" and "Southern Views" magazines in its periodical listings. BellSouth has neither one. And when did the Republican Assembly of Muscogee County start printing magazines?

8. OUT-OF-TOWNERS. BellSouth has white pages not only for Columbus, but nearby cities such as Cusseta and LaGrange. YellowBook has none of those. That's the way to encourage local tourism....

9. ZIP CODES. YellowBook lists them for all of Georgia and Alabama. BellSouth does not - perhaps hoping you'll make long-distance calls to faraway towns to learn their zip codes, and make the company extra money.

10. MY NAME. It's spelled correctly in both books - but the four-column format of BellSouth puts me five pages ahead of YellowBook. They like me; they really like me....

And if you're nervous at all about YellowBook, let me assure you about one thing. I found NO pictures to match the TV commercial, of a child brushing teeth with yellow toothpaste.

This concludes our Blog Review of Books - so now let's check some more important things from Thursday:

+ The Arby's restaurant on Manchester Expressway was robbed for the second time in a month. Clearly, there are some people in this city who should NOT be "thinking Arby's."

+ Tree damage from Wednesday's storm forced the closure of 13th Avenue, around the Muscogee County School District's main office. There, you see?! If that office is moved to land next to the main library, there will be no trees in the way of anything.

+ Russell County Superintendent Vivian Carter met with school principals, and revealed she wants to bring about a "cultural alignment." We'll see how many artists she can persuade to move out of the Historic District, and line up on Highway 431....

+ Columbus Police told WRBL they'll have one officer on duty at the SOA Watch event this weekend, for every 130 protesters. This probably won't be necessary at "God Bless Fort Benning" Saturday -- as long as the soldiers show up with their weapons.

+ A delegation from South Korea presented a million-dollar donation to help build the National Infantry Museum. It's the group's way of saying thanks for U.S. assistance in the Korean conflict - and may assure the new museum's theater shows an annual marathon of M*A*S*H episodes.

+ A Macon television station announced it will NOT show the upcoming "If I Did It...." special with O.J. Simpson. I'm hearing there's also pressure on WXTX Fox-54 not to show it -- but hold on a minute. Suppose John Walsh declares if Simpson did it, he's among "America's Most Wanted?"

+ Only two days before the Iron Bowl, Auburn running back Kenny Irons was spotted in Columbus - sitting in line outside a store, to buy a PlayStation 3 game system. What do you think Irons is doing while he's waiting? Studying a playbook? A textbook? Or a contract with an agent?

(How will Kenny Irons explain this to Coach Tommy Tuberville today? Maybe he'll try to say he was "thinking about the game....")

+ The first Georgia rivalry game of the college basketball season found "Tech" stomping "State" 103-74. Georgia Tech has scored 100 points in back-to-back games for the first time ever. As for my beloved Kansas Jayhawks - sigh -- you'd think against Oral Roberts, we might have had a prayer.

+ Instant Message to Mike Patton Auto of LaGrange: Why are you interviewing people about cars outside the Springer Opera House? Did everyone in LaGrange become knowledgeable, after they broke ground for the Kia plant?

Thousands of visitors read this blog every month, in Columbus and around the world. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 4443 (+ 99, 2.3%)

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© 2003-06 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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