Driving down I-40 last week, I met a tractor-trailer transporting a dozen new cars. The pink SRX Crossover Cadillac sparkling in the bright sun caught my eye. There was no doubt in my mind that some Mary Kay Cosmetics superstar would soon be beaming just as brilliantly as she drove away in one of the most easily recognized sales incentives in the world. The scene brought back memories from 1986, when Mary Kay Ash, Jean and I shared a banquet table – and stories.
We visit the Track in Pigeon Forge about once a year. When our children were babies, we did not think the day would come for us to join the crowd hovering around Light #3, waiting for their rides. But what do you know? We were wrong. That day came faster than we thought. As soon as our kids could sit in the little train and take a ride, we made our first Track visit.
We lost a vital journalistic outlet Wednesday, when the Knoxville News Sentinel announced it was laying off the staff of Metro Pulse, the 23-year-old alternative weekly newspaper.
Most college football fans know that Georgia's Heisman Trophy-caliber running back Todd Gurley has been suspended indefinitely as an investigation about his signing autographs for pay continues. As his team faced an important SEC East Division game with Missouri in Columbia this past Saturday, many people declared the Georgia Bulldogs were in a heap of trouble. Sports fans know by now that Georgia won handily, 34-0.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, October is National Eat Better, Eat Together Month. I’ve written before about the number of special months we have, covering just about every known subject. October itself has several designations, including such health-related observances as Breast Cancer Awareness, Dental Hygiene, Domestic Violence Awareness, Eye Injury Prevention and Health Literacy. All of these, and others, hold special places in many hearts and minds. Different observances imprint different people in various ways for various reasons.
On my first visit to Gatlinburg, I was impressed with the fall decorations. My friends and I took turns sitting on hay bales in front of hotels, surrounded by pumpkins and corn stalks. I am pretty sure it was the end of August, but Gatlinburg was already decorated for fall. We loved it. If you ever wonder whether tourists notice street decor and curb appeal, wonder no more. They do. It's those of us locals who see this year in and year out and may have become numb to it.
If I could point to any one thing that is causing more and more people to think they should understand everything that anyone else says or does, I guess it would be the 24-hour news cycle available on television, radio, Internet and other accessible transmittal venues. Most all of us are aware of how things are inspected, discussed and, yes, cussed, immediately after they occur. A recent serious example is the Ferguson, Mo., episode.
I took down the Milwaukee Brewers schedule.
On page 219 of "A Strategy For Winning" I write, "I may not hit a home run every time I speak, but I'll tell you this: I will never strike out. It may be a triple; it may be a double. Every now and then it may be a single, but I guarantee I am not going to completely strike out as a speaker. My self-esteem, my attitude, my creativity, my visualization and my desire and discipline to prepare properly are not going to allow me to strike out."
Being a tourist teaches us so much about how we should behave when we come home to our tourist destination, especially if we are employed in the hospitality business.
I used to be what some might call a music snob. But, really, it's just that I know what I like, and I know what I don't like, and I tend keep things snug in their respective circles without second thought.
It’s a good thing the people who send spam don’t profile us, and that what gets flooded into our email accounts doesn’t represent how we actually spend out money or our time.
Most readers are probably aware that Truett Cathy, founder and chairman emeritus of the highly successful Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, died this past Monday at age 93. What began in 1946 as one tiny restaurant named Dwarf Grill (later renamed Dwarf House) in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville, Ga., has grown to more than 1,800 restaurants in 40 states and Washington, D.C. Chick-fil-A has established an unparalleled record of 47 consecutive years of annual sales increases. The family-owned business reached $5 billion in sales in 2013.
The other week, we finally made it to the Bush's Beans museum, also known as Duke's Museum. Well, at least that's what Duke, the company's famous golden retriever, would like us to call it. And yes, he is still busy trying to sell the secret family recipe.
The year Jean and I married and I graduated from Murray State University, we moved to an apartment on Poplar Avenue in Memphis near Crump Stadium and fairly close to Humes High School, where I had accepted a faculty position. We were also close to a recently built coral pink facility named St. Jude Children's Hospital, later renamed St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
It's getting to be that time of year again. Late August and early September mean the transition from summer to autumn; kids are getting back to school; summer tourism, and the traffic it brings, are winding down.
I haven't kept up in detail on the situation in Ferguson, Mo. However, just like anyone else in the world who is exposed to print or electronic media, by osmosis alone there is no way I couldn't have picked up facts and fiction regarding the actions and reactions that began Aug. 9. The media reporting has run the gamut from being good and fair to being sorry and biased. The communication, or lack thereof, from some leaders on the community, state and national levels has run a similar gamut.
Summertime in the South unleashes a full-throttle sensory experience. The sounds of crickets and cicadas. The smells of magnolia trees and hundreds (thousands?) of other plants. The green of vegetation at its apex. The taste of blueberry pie. The water of one's own body seeping to the surface of one's skin. This humidity...
How many times have you seen this play out in a movie or on TV: The bad guy goes to fire his weapon, and the hero shoots it out of his or hand. The day is saved, and the villain is wounded but alive to learn a lesson, go to jail or possibly just to plot again.
Will Rogers said, "A person only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people." Since I'm probably not any smarter than most of the people reading this column, I need to make sure I supply my readers with information that in one way or another is either uplifting, insightful to some degree, encouraging, entertaining, helpful in some way or emotionally stirring, bringing either a little lump to your throat or a little laugh or snicker (or at least a smile).
I accompanied wife Jean to a supermarket we frequently visit. While she shopped in the produce and dairy sections I went to get a few things, including my favorite breakfast cereal. I looked for it in its usual place, but it wasn’t there. So, in a style made famous by Dr. Seuss, “Let me say – I searched high, and I searched low, that very day – I searched here, and I searched there – When I was through, I had searched, everywhere.”
First I read in the paper about Kat Kingdom, the cat attraction one can visit to play with cats, in one of the shops at the Covered Bridge development on Glades Road in Gatlinburg. Later I read that Kat Kingdom would have a grand opening featuring cupcakes, cookies and live music. They had me at cupcakes.
I had just spoken at a convention attended by hospitality industry personnel. Following my presentation, a man in his late 30s or early 40s engaged me in a conversation that eventually led to his tattoo story. Prior to obtaining a job with a convention hotel, he had been the manager of a travel center on a heavily traveled interstate. The tattoo on his forearm was easily accepted there – but not in his new job.
Few stories that I’ve written lately have gotten the enthusiastic response that we saw for the announcement of a possible new movie theater at Governor’s Crossing.
The content of this column is part literature lesson, part hippie history lesson, part point-making humor, part communication breakdown examples and part human relations tip.