The Kudzu Kronicle

Because not all Southerners are the same

With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you …

At the end of every episode of “Barney and Friends,” a giant purple slightly-too-happy tyrannosaurus rex led the show’s young stars in singing the “I Love You” song:

I love you/You love me/We’re a happy family/With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you/Won’t you say you love me too?

Children happily sang along because Barney would eat children who did not cooperate — a scene more brutal than any in “Jurassic Park” because Barney had no incisors, just a bunch of molars which required hours of grinding the children down into digestible portions.

We sure could use Barney right now, not just to do away with uncooperative children but to teach us about love, harmony and being a part of one big happy family. Unfortunately, Barney was canceled in 2009 after becoming the first celebrity caught up in the #MeToo movement when he gave great big hugs and kisses to Stella the Storyteller without her consent. Despite producing a calendar showing he was out having beers with friends at the Pterodactyl Club when the incident supposedly happened, Barney lost his show. He was last spotted in September singing “The Clean-Up Song” while collecting aluminum cans along a roadside in Topeka to support his drug habit.

If you’re still reading, my point is that we have endured a brutal election season that finally ends today. With only two viable political parties, tribalism and partisanship is out of control. Also, if you’re still reading, what kind of freak are you? No one reads anything longer than a Tweet anymore. That’s why Americans grow more stupid every day. SMDH Continue reading

10 Jimmy Buffett songs perfect for your Hurricane Michael playlist

(Note: Yes, I posted this same thing last September when Irma hit. I put a lot of sweat into changing the word Irma to Michael as Margaritahill is under threat of yet another tropical storm, this time a little stronger.)

I love the beach. Unfortunately, I live three hours from the nearest coast.

But, thanks to Hurricane Michael, it looks like I’ll have a tropical couple of days here in Perry, Georgia. Of course, Michael should be merely a strong tropical storm by the time it gets here as the ensemble models have him tracking right over my house. Ben Jones at WMAZ-13 TV in Macon just reported, “We see Michael hitting Chris Johnson’s house and Margaritahill starting about 9 a.m. Monday. And speaking of ensemble models, we expect Chris to be modeling an ensemble featuring flip-flops, cargo shorts and a Margaritaville shirt with the sleeves cut off about that time — in other words, his formal wear for this special occasion.”

As a Parrothead, I’ll be sure to greet Michael properly with a margarita in hand and Jimmy Buffett tunes playing. I’ll have to make sure these 10 hurricane-related songs are on the playlist. (If you have any that should be added, let me know in the comments below.)

Bama Breeze (2006)
This song was a tribute to the legendary Flora-Bama, a collection of bars on the Florida-Alabama line that got mostly blown away by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It has since been rebuilt.
Sample:
In 1984 Mick Jagger passed through town
Bought the house a round
Signed his name on the wall
In the ladies bathroom stall

Nobody Speaks to the Captain No More (1986)
“Floridays” was Jimmy’s best album of the 1980s.
Sample:
He was a fugitive with a pseudo name
Lost his mind in a hurricane
Coconut upside his head
People said he’d be better dead

Perrier Blues (1978)
This was off Jimmy’s first live album, recorded at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre — with a broken leg, no less. He said he wrote it while in a hurricane hole in Nassau, Bahamas, riding out a storm while listening to a Jackson Browne album.
Sample:
Ridin’ high atop the main mast
Harbor stretched out below
All day I’ve been feelin’ kind of half-assed
So I asked the boy to lower me slow
Lower me slow

Landfall (1977)
This is off the “Changes in Latitudes” album that spawned the hit “Margaritaville” — and the billion-dollar industry surrounding that made-up place. My grillin’ pad is called “Margaritahill,” and I expect a cease-and-desist letter from Jimmy any day now.
Sample:
`Cause I’ve seen incredible things in my years
Some days were laughter, others were tears
If I had it all to do over again
I’d just get myself drunk and I’d jump right back in

In the Shelter (1971)
The subject of this song from Jimmy’s folk-singer days wasn’t hiding from a hurricane, but a lot of folks are looking for shelter right now. This is from the “High Cumberland Jubilee” album that the producers “lost” because they didn’t want to release it. Miraculously, they “found” the tapes after Jimmy hit it big.
Sample:
Past the boutique
down the alley to the river people pass her by
Sits on the big gray rocks takes off her boots and socks
And knowing what she will do next
Just starts to cry

No Plane on Sunday  (1986)
Hurricanes leave a lot of folks stranded near airports wondering when they’re gonna be able to leave. Folks who fly to Caribbean islands and third-world countries likely can relate to this song.
Sample:
You can throw your luggage down
Lose your cool and stomp around
But there’s nothin, nothin you can do
Wipe away your girlfriend’s tears
Go to the bar and have some beers
There ain’t no way the bird’s gettin through

Last Man Standing (2002)
“Far Side of the World” is Jimmy’s best album of the 2000s, although that’s not saying a lot. This wasn’t the best song on it, but I hope to be still standing after Wednesday night.
Sample:
Gonna be the last man standing
People crashin’ on the sofas and passed out on the floor
But the last man standing
Sayin’ bring on a little bit more

Survive (1979)
Again, I just hope to survive through the next few days— along with Margaritahill, my grill, the house, my electricity, etc.
Sample:
I play the stereo loud
When I’m away from the maddening crowd
Smokin’, jokin’, clowns we all are

If It All Falls Down (1986)
I’m expecting an awful lot to fall down thanks to Michael— just hope it’s mostly small limbs.
Sample:
Never wanted to be
A part of history
I have my days in the sun
A beach bum, a man for all seasides
Guidance counselor said
Your scores are anti-heroic
Computer recommends
Hard-drinking calypso poet

Tryin’ to Reason with Hurricane Season (1974)
Off “A1A” — which Buffett purists consider the definitive Buffett album — this is one of my go-to strumming songs on my guitar. Easy and, of course, breezy.
Sample:
Squalls out on the gulf stream,
Big storms coming soon.
I passed out in my hammock,
God, I slept way past noon.
Stood up and tried to focus,
I hoped I wouldn’t have to look far.
I knew I could use a Bloody Mary,
So I stumbled next door to the bar.

And, yes, Parrotheads, I left 2009’s “Surfing in a Hurricane” off this list on purpose. It may be the most literal song about an actual hurricane, but it is simply awful. Awful, I say.

TRAVELOGUE: Memphis, Elvis, BBQ and the birth of rock ‘n’ roll

About 10 days ago, I set out for a place I’d never been — Memphis, Tennessee — with a couple of women who are big fans of some guy named Elvis Presley, who is some sort of music or movie star, or a gas station attendant, depending on what magazine covers you like to peruse in the supermarket checkout aisle.

My Mom and my wife Shellie are both Elvis fans, so this trip was for them — especially my Mom who recently had a milestone birthday. My Mom is such a huge Elvis fan that my son hated to break the news to her about Elvis’ passing away, something he learned about somewhere around 2006 or so.

“Memommy,” he said awkwardly from the back seat of a car she was driving. “I don’t know how to tell you this, but Elvis is dead.”

Fortunately, she seemed to take it better than she did in 1977, so Saylor figured she must not have been such a big Elvis fan after all to be able to take it in stride like that.

So, this was a trip for the ladies. I just tried to stay out of the way as much as possible and keep as many comments to myself as possible. Along the way, though, I had a great time — and I’ve saved the best spot for last in this little travelogue.

Below are a few thoughts from some of the key points of the road trip, followed by photo slideshows from each attraction. I won’t be offended if you skip all of the brilliant words I’ve composed and go straight to the photos. Americans don’t or can’t read anymore, so I became a writer at the worst possible time. It’s even worse timing than when my great-great-great-great-grandpa decided to become an airline pilot in 1847. It literally took him several months to find a job. Continue reading

Pause the boycott, kick off those New Balance sneakers and enjoy a Kirk Cameron movie

Another week, another boycott. Yawn.

That was me yawning, not Nike, of course. The folks at Nike are jumping up and down and yelling because their sales are soaring. I don’t think it has anything to do with the Colin Kaepernick ad. It likely has more to do with folks who just like to see boycotty snowflakes melt with rage and have fun making it happen.

I admit that I do like to see snowflakes melt — and I’ve found over the last few years that the folks who scream “SNOWFLAKE!” the loudest are often the most easily offended and always feel persecuted. Yes, it is so hard being a straight white male from a long line of privilege. It’s like time-honored values such as misogyny, racism and homophobia are just fading by the wayside. Awww.

I don’t like to see snowflakes melt enough to go out and buy a Nike t-shirt, though. That’s kind of a personal thing with me. I just don’t like shilling for brands and corporations. Well, except Margaritaville. I’ve done enough shilling for that brand that Jimmy ought to let me have one of his retirement homes for free. I did head to the gym last week in a Nike t-shirt that my wife bought me just to see if some loud-mouthed snowflake might have something to say. Just out of curiosity, of course.

Boycotts are nothing new. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was just a little over 60 years ago — when America was “great” — and really helped accelerate the Civil Rights Movement. But lately boycotts have evolved into petty protestations that people do not think the same way you do. “MY THOUGHTS SHALL NEVER BE CHALLENGED!”

Lately right-wingers have boycotted — or at least said they were boycotting (but not really) — Netflix, the NFL, Nordstroms, Starbucks, Target, Anheuser-Busch, Macys, Nabisco, Amazon and Pepsi. Big deal. I’ve been boycotting Pepsi for years, but for the right reason — taste. And last I checked, Amazon is doing quite well as Jeff Bezos makes more money in a day than President Trump pays out daily to keep various women quiet. That is not fake news because I got it straight from an aninominunimous source inside the White House who guarantees Bezos makes more money in a day than that. He makes more money in a day than I will in 1,247 lifetimes. Continue reading

Feel free to ban me from your funeral

When it comes to funerals, I’d rather be golfing. No, that’s not a quote from President Trump, who got a few holes in while a lot of Americans were mourning both Sen. John McCain and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin last week. That quote is from me. I really don’t enjoy funerals. Then again, my golf game is a mournful sort of event — especially for people who want to see eagles, birdies and pars instead of various multiples of bogeys.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to go to my share of funerals for family and friends over the years. In fact, in the 17,585 days I’ve been on this Earth, I’ve yet to have the good fortune to be banned from a funeral. There’s still time, though, so if you would like me banned from your funeral, act now. I won’t be offended, and you can never schedule your tee time too early.

Last week’s funerals also got me thinking about my own funeral. I’ve not scheduled it yet, so don’t get too excited, but I do agree with Sen. McCain’s insistence upon having a lot of input in your own funeral. Perhaps if Aretha Franklin had planned her funeral, it wouldn’t have been the disorganized mess it was this past Friday.

I also don’t want a funeral as looooong as Aretha’s. A lot of folks thought the most awkward part of the service was when that bishop fondled Ariana Grande on stage and made a stupid joke about her name, but I thought the most awkward part was six hours into it when Aretha sat up and said, “Can we we get on with it already? I got places to be!” Continue reading

Why I ain’t a Democrat … or a Republican

When you’re a white guy from the South with a Southern accent, a pickup truck, a shotgun and two — count ’em, two — Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirts, folks around here assume you’re a Republican. They assume you’re a genuine, Obama-birth-certificate-doutin’, Hillary hatin’, Fox News lovin’, Trump-worshippin’ right-winger.

Well, I ain’t. I mean, I’m not. I buck that stereotype in these here parts. The thing about most stereotypes, though, is that they often are generally true. Most of the folks I know around here who fit that description are indeed right-wingers — some to the point of wearing a Q shirt and mumbling “lock her up” in their sleep.

The conservatives I know think I’m a Democrat. I ain’t. I mainly vote that way right now because I think the GOP has fallen down a hole while chasing a crazed orange rabbit. I consider myself an independent with my views ranging from left to right and averaging somewhere in the middle — which, granted, is a mighty lonely place these days. It’s hard to get folks fired up about moderation:

What do we want?!
Moderation!
When do we want it?!
At a reasonable juncture when it will effect necessary positive outcomes across a vast spectrum of interests and needs in a prudent fashion!
What do we … I’m sorry … what?

“Ha! You ain’t no moderate!” I can hear my right-wing friends saying. Not on every issue, no, but on some. And take that gun out of your mouth, Gomer.

So, where do I stray from some liberals? Well, here are a few areas: Continue reading

In this labor market, companies must make work more workable

American companies have long tried to figure out how to get more productivity out of their workers — so long as it doesn’t involve paying them more. Other than that, they’re open to all options — as long as those options are no different than the way they’ve always done things.

Recently there have been a lot of stories on companies — generally not American ones — that have experimented with 32-hour workweeks or retaining 40-hour workweeks but making it four 10-hour shifts instead of five eight-hour shifts. That’s a good start.

When I began working at the Ledger-Enquirer in 1997 as a copy editor, my schedule sounded fairly awful — Friday through Monday — so I had no weekend. But I did work four 10-hour days and had three straight days off, Tuesday through Thursday. Granted, it wasn’t uncommon to pull an overtime shift on one of those days, but when I did have three straight days off it felt like a mini-vacation and I was refreshed enough to get through a 35-inch story about a Harris County Commission meeting when I returned to the office.

Obviously not every company is designed to accommodate four 10-hour days, but many of those who’ve been able to pull it off have reported more productivity, less absenteeism and happier employees.

It seems to me that more American companies would consider such incentives in this tight labor market. The unemployment rate in the U.S. has been 5% or lower since December 2015 following the steady recovery from the Great Recession, meaning companies are fighting each other for the best employees. Continue reading

We can now replace the Supreme Court with a vending machine

I didn’t get caught up in President Trump’s game show hype about picking a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy — the closest thing to a swing voter we had on the Supreme Court. We all knew it would be someone meeting the approval of The Federalist Society, Heritage Foundation and whatever combination of that is responsible for the bad guys in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I admit I did hold out a grain of hope that Trump would keep “The Celebrity Appresident” interesting by nominating someone like Gallagher or Pee-Wee Herman, but no such luck.

Brett Kavanaugh will be easily confirmed, so the Democrats might should focus their energy on getting people to the polls instead of fighting in vain to stop him from being seated. Their apathetic voters and the people who think one party is just as evil as the other is the reason we will have a right-skewed Supreme Court for many years to come.

Conservatives want the court to have a majority of right-leaning justices, hopefully the kind so disinterested in counter arguments that they’ll be like Justice Clarence Thomas and not even ask questions or quit snoring during arguments. Liberals want the court to have a majority of left-leaning justices, the kind hated by the American Society of Christian Cake Bakers.

I, however, want the court to have nine swing voters. I want nine justices who may rule 9-0, 5-4 or 7-2. I want each case considered on its own merits in regard to the Constitution in context with a world 230 years older than the Constitution. I don’t want to see every outcome already determined before a case gets to the bench. If all the justices are going to adhere to predictable ideology, we might as well just have a vending machine for cases outside the court and save some time and money in the process:

“Please insert your case and 75 cents. Congratulations. Here is your 5-4 decision. Enjoy your oligarchy and have a nice day.” Continue reading

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