Saturday, August 30, 2008

¡Ay, de mis pobres hermanos cubanos!

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/weather/08/30/gustav/index.html

Según este artículo de CNN.com, Gustav aterrizó en Cuba con vientos en exceso de 150 mph. Vientos así causan daño catastrófico; mi corazón se siente triste por el sufrimiento que esta tormenta les va a causar. Todos deberíamos orar que la tormenta no vaya a Nueva Orleans; si pasa por allí siendo tan fuerte y grande, mi ciudad querida va a desaperecer para siempre.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Three Years Later

"Cynthia Page"

"Dad, a man shot his sister in the head over a bag of ice." This knowledge chilled us to the core as we loaded the truck with supplies for the journey.

As we drove along in the impenetrable September night towards the unknown, my father told me:

"Son, if someone wants to harm us, and we have to open fire, always start with the one on the left and work your way to the right; that way, you are working towards your dominant hand, range, and comfort zone--which means better accuracy, if needed . I will take out the second one on the left. If I say 'fire,' drop to a knee and aim the shotgun at his stomach. Whether or not the shot stops him, move on to the next person. If I get hit, finish the others, then attend to me. Govern your emotions, ignore your fear; there's no time to fear in a firefight. Let's pray we don't have to even load our guns." (We said a prayer before leaving.)

No cars, No cops, no lights, no moon, just littered roadways, crushed vehicles, the intense and omnipresent smell of fallen pines, and the taste of metal (fear) in my mouth. I leaned my head against the hot glass as the Explorer hurtled through the splintered forests of eastern Mississippi, imagining how I would react if someone wanted to kill me. "Could I kill someone?" I asked myself. "Yes," I answered, "without hesitation," as I tried to steel myself against an imagined enemy, against the never-before-considered proximate possibility of battle.

A shooting star burned out above us, as I stared up at the night sky.

So Norman Can Sing Along with Me When I'm Not There

For the record, Norman Sandridge's wife, Kimberly, is a kickass lady with a charitable heart and soul. Their generosity towards me in letting me stay with them for four weeks this Summer was above and beyond what friendship normally requires. They spared me thousands of dollars in either dorm or gasoline/commute fees from my cousin's house (2 hours each way daily) in La Plata, MD (thanks again Robby for letting me stay there a week). I'm certain that I drove her crazy, but she never let it show.

As for Norman, well, we go way back, and in spite of an ill-advised friendship hiatus over Star Wars and ValuJet (the stupid shit we choose to take seriously sometimes!), we are as close as we ever were.

We both share an off-key love of live performance in basements. Since I can't be there to sing along with my buddy, here's a Beatles recording, done by yours truly, that doesn't make water fowl migrate. For you, old buddy, old pal--good times. Anyone else wanting a middling karaoke version of an awesome song, can click too:
http://courses.coker.edu/jwilliams/Song%20Recordings/

Thursday, August 28, 2008

OH ****!

A Clarion Call to Paul & Caroline Dunn

Among the reality shows that I claim my wife forces me to watch (admittedly, I do like some of them, but I mostly watch because I love her and she likes them) are two that I truly enjoy: Bravo's Project Runway (even without Heidi Klum it would be excellent) and CBS's The Amazing Race.

The Amazing Race pits 16 teams of two against each other in a race around the world for a million dollars. Along the way the teams must complete certain tasks requiring physical and culinary bravery, stamina, intelligence, endurance, and cleverness. The usual winners are couples who 1) are intelligent 2) are athletic or in reasonably good shape 3) speak more languages than mere English and 4) Work well together. Oftentimes they must do things that many would balk at; who can forget Uchenna and Joyce as she shaved off her head to earn a Fast Forward?

After watching season after season and seeing the kinds of people they pick and who do well, I am convinced that Paul and Caroline Dunn would be perfect for this competition and would have a good possibility of winning the whole thing. Therefore, I challenge Paul AND Caroline, while they're still young, to make a video, submit it, and see if they get accepted. Paul speaks enough languages well enough to get yall around three continents, and you are both accomplished world travelers, intelligent, in great shape. Come on; do it! For your ease.....

Eligibility Requirements

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

National Go to Class Drunk Day: What's Funny at Twenty Is Lame Shortly Thereafter

Frat boys never cease to disappoint me in their infantile efforts to "unite" under their ethos of overconsumption of all vices and prurient behaviors:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=19093242680
(you have to have a facebook account to view it, I believe)

As a professor, this is annoying, and shows a lack of maturity on the part of the many Coker students who have "joined" this facebook group of 167,000+.

Maybe we can counter-program with

National Come to Class Sufficiently Rested and Adequately Prepared Day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Stuff That Wouldn't Happen in the South

Every once in awhile, I'm reminded of how clairvoyant Vonnegut was in "Harrison Bergeron." Other stuff comes my way that reminds me how glad I am to be from the South, because there are some things that would never, ever, happen in the South. I should start a list of "Stuff That Wouldn't Happen in the South." Maybe I'll start keeping a list over on the right side. First entry, a particularly chickenshit bit of homecooking from Connecticut youth baseball.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/baseball/mlb/08/25/pitcher.toogood.ap/index.html?cnn=yes

Why would this not happen in the South? He would be respected by his peers and their parents, not feared.

If you go carryin' pictures of Chairman Mao

From this article:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/08/25/convention.security/index.html

we learn that Denver has a converted warehouse set up with 400 overflow cells, in case the 20,000 - 50,000 protestors expected to show up from the DNC, get unruly. One of the future inmates, Jordan Hill, said this concerning the construction of temporary jail space?"

"This is America. We have a system in place, so why aren't we using it? Why are we using warehouses?"

Mr. Hill, it's because people like you and your ilk insist on showing up to massively protest [forgive the split infinitive] at a party convention. and overtax the system in place. The jail won't be big enough to hold protestors who violate the "civil" law. Now, if you want to be thrown in a general holding tank with criminals, and then complain about "Gitmo" conditions or whatever buzzword you and your bros come up with this month, Denver is seeking to avoid that. The warehouse will literally warehouse your asses until your parents wire your designated bailor the money to spring you.

I find your desire to protest especially confusing when I read your "manifesto" and realize that the Democratic Party shares many of your stipulations. Why the "colorful" demonstration? Why?

I understand the need to protest at certain times, but why not go to St. Paul. Are the Republicans not the far guiltier Party in all your accusations? Are you not more likely to ruffle the feathers of your opponents at their convention?

I'm too civil to go and protest something unless I believe that my protest might actually change something; the most power I have is with my vote. Thus far in my life, nothing, and I mean nothing, has gotten me angry enough to want to go shout insults at other people because of their political beliefs. I hate the Republicans who have destroyed our civil rights, one small step at a time, in the name of safety. I hate the erosion of other safeties for the consumer in order to benefit large corporations. I hate that we "bailed" out Entergy New Orleans when the parent company made billions in 2005. I hate that we invaded Iraq under false pretenses. There are many many things that I hate about conservative Republicans saying one thing and doing another. But as much as I hate those, I hate liberal protestors far far more.

You accomplish nothing. Nothing. Ever.

This is the kind of protest that I might attend.
http://www.commondreams.org/news2005/0114-01.htm

This is art; it motivates people to attend; it is symbolic. Yelling insults at people and getting yourself arrested is asshattery, you smashing young man.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Odd

So, last night I'm unloading some groceries from the car, and my neighbor across the street comes over and says, "Hey." I turn around to see him looking disheveled, like he had just woken up. I said, "What's going on?" He responded, "I just woke up. What day is it?" Incredulously I thought it was odd because, one, that he wouldn't know what day it was, and two, that he would come outside and ask me rather than say, turning on the tv. Worse still, he then asked me "Is it morning or evening?"

I laughed once and said, "It's the evening, bro," in that tone that I reserve for people who I am clearly talking down to because of poor decisions. He shook his head in a nod, said, "thanks," and turned and went back to his house. How very odd.

The lesson we learn from this, boys and girls, is that methamphetamine will fark you up.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Obama's Vice President

Is Barack Obama ever going to announce his running mate? I feel it's cowardly, like both candidates are waiting for the other person to go first, so they can criticize and say how much better their colleague is.

Enough with all the games. Announce it before you get denounced.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More Calliope Photos




Let's Hope It's Bloodless

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/08/06/mauritania.coup.ap/index.html

The endless coups in Africa, Mauritania is relatively peaceful; let's hope it doesn't descend into civil war the way other West-African nations have in recent memory. I can't believe a story about Africa other than AIDS made the masthead at CNN.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

First Photos of Calliope

Enjoy! These didn't cost $14 million.







Official Stats

Calliope weighs 8 lbs. 4 ozs. and is 19 3/4" long. All her reflexes are good and she has a three-vessel umbilical cord. Mickelle is recuperating without complications.

Hala ka ukulele

Momma made a baby!

Calliope Marisol Williams was born today at Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center at 12:59 PM EDT. She is chubby, and as soon as we get her height and weight from the nursery, we'll let everyone know. No complications, ten fingers, ten toes, poochy lips.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Beijing Smog

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/aug/04/olympicgames.smogfearsdismissed
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/beijing_olympics/story/0,27313,24128522-5014104,00.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Smog_of_1952



RIP Skip Caray (1939-2008)

So, I learned this morning, via email, that my all-time favorite sportscaster, Skip Caray, of the Atlanta Braves Radio Network passed away. This news is hitting me pretty hard, harder than I would've thought, and it's even more shocking given that he had this done a few years ago. Baseball has always been a huge part of my life, and the Atlanta Braves have long been at the center of that baseball world-view. Given their primacy, in my mind, in the baseball universe, and with Skip Caray having long been the "voice" of the Atlanta Braves, his loss is like losing a piece of the Braves, a piece of my baseball world, a piece of my youth.

His nasally, sarcastic, clearly Braves-biased delivery made him my favorite annoucer. While Pete Van Wieren, Don Sutton, and Ernie Johnson were good, Caray was my favorite. You never had to wonder who was talking, his voice was distinctive and unmistakable. From knowing that the Braves' game would always be on in my grandma's house, from Dale Murphy crushing a homerun at my first game in 1985, from Glenn "Mother" Hubbard repeatedly tying the NL record for most assists in a game, from Jeff Treadway pulling off the hidden-ball trick in a game, from the Braves running off the field after only two outs in that dreaded 1988 season, from Gerald Perry sitting out the last game of the season so he could "hit" .300 (.2997, isn't .300 Gerald), from Pete Smith recognizing me and being a class act, from seeing Darrell Evans at Six Flags and he letting me try on his World Series ring ('84 Tigers) when I saw him a couple of weeks later at a baseball card show, from meeting Tom Glavine and John Smoltz at baseball card shows (and being giddy with joy), from Otis Nixon climbing the wall, from John Smoltz being unhittable in the postseason, from Lonnie Smith pulling up at second because Knoblauch fake-balled him, from Kent Hrbek blatantly pulling Ron Gant off first, from "Chicks Digging the Long Ball," from 1995 World Champions, from "Frank" Cabrera's hit and Andy Van Slyke's center-field sit-down, until today, Skip Caray has always been there.

I still get chills from even reading two of his calls. I was listening, live, to each of them:

A lotta room in right-center, if he hits one there we can dance in the streets. The 2-1. Swung, line drive left field! One run is in! Here comes Bream! Here's the throw to the plate! He is...safe! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!...Braves win! They may have to hospitalize Sid Bream; he's down at the bottom of a huge pile at the plate. They help him to his feet. Frank Cabrera got the game winner! The Atlanta Braves are National League champions again! This crowd is going berserk, listen!

and,

Mark gets the sign, the wind and the pitch here it is... swung, fly ball deep left center, Grissom on the run... Yes! Yes! Yes! The Atlanta Braves have given you a championship! Listen to this crowd! A mob scene on the field. Wohlers gets 'em one, two, three. A couple of fans rushing on the field. The Atlanta Braves have brought the first championship to Atlanta!

During the mutiple post-season appearances made by the Braves through the years, when the games were televised on the national networks, my dad and I would turn off the sound on the television and listen to the Skip Caray/Van Wieren calling of the game. That's how much we liked him.

Rest in peace Skip; you'll always have a fan in me.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Unbelievable, But True Nonetheless

So, we had a couple of hours of hellaciously severe thunderstorms this evening. Long about 9:45PM, the power finally quit flickering and just plain went out. We sat in the dark, with candles burning, while I read two Horacio Quiroga stories "A la deriva (Adrift)" and "La almohada de plumas (The Feather Pillow)" to my wife, mom, and my daughter Marley. Mickelle went to go lie down, and while we sat talking in the dark, the thought occurred to me to tell Marley that if she would just count to 100, the power would come back on.

She hesitated at first. I had no reason to say that it would come back on, no card up my sleeve knowing somehow that the time was right; there was no flickering beforehand to let me know that it's return was imminent. Marley wouldn't do it; she kept saying, "I'm not doing it until the school year." I kept goading her until finally I said, "Ok, count to ten." She did. Then I said, "Ok, now to twenty." She did, to which I said, "keep going." She worked her six-year-old way through the numbers, pausing briefly to remember what came after fifty-nine and sixty-nine. When she got to ninety, the excitement grew in her eyes, the candles were burning, still no sign of electricity, other than lightning. I said a little prayer in my heart that it would work. She got to 100, and we all waited for a second, 1001, and nothing. 1002, Nothing happened. 1003, Our shoulders slumped. 1004, I started to tell her to do something, 1005 the power came back on.

The look of "power" in her eyes was unbelievable. I guarantee that she will never, ever, forget this night as long as she lives. It was one of the 100 coolest experiences of my life. In less than five seconds of her counting to 100, the power came back on, and stayed on. I have no idea where the idea to get her to count to 100 came from, but damned if it wasn't a marvelous experience.