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.
You may have heard the recording. In a story that recently went viral, a technology journalist named Ryan Block tried to cancel his Internet service with Comcast. A hostile customer service representative tried to dissuade him. Block preserved much of the mortifying conversation.
We recently spent almost six hours at Mills Park in Gatlinburg. Yes, in one day. The kids loved it and wanted to go back the next day. The playground area provides a lot of entertainment and great physical play. They hang from the monkey bars and stretch to get to the next ring. They walk up and down the stairs to use the slide over and over. They jump on the hanging bridge.
I happened to get a quick glimpse of someone on TV the other night and had to ask my wife Jean, “Was that Joan Rivers?” Jean confirmed it was. “Well,” I replied, “I thought so. It sort of looked like her.” I never really cared for Rivers’ brand of humor, but at least I used to be able to recognize her – before all of her plastic surgery. Someone once told her, “You used to look your age. Now you don’t even look your species.” (Could have been comedian Jay Leno for all I know, since I don’t think he cared much for her brand of humor either.)
I’ve been labeled a pack rat because I hang onto items long after I’ve stopped using them regularly. I have an emotional attachment to memories associated with many of these things. But don’t we all have useless items that we keep simply for sentimental value?
Several items triggered this column. First of all, the sermon I heard Sunday was titled “Grace and Truth.” Presented well, it delved into chapter one of John’s Gospel, focusing on John 1:14, “And the Word (Christ) became a human being and lived here on earth among us and was full of grace and truth.” The primary emphasis, as declared by the sermon title, was “full of grace and truth.”
Recently, we attended Birds of Prey for the second year in a row at the Gatlinburg Library. The one-hour program by the American Eagle Foundation presented seven birds of prey that are taken care of by this nonprofit organization. They don't just have eagles there. They also have owls, vultures and hawks.
Yesterday an associate and I discussed how God seems to send someone to lift you up, provide support, or give you a nudge in the right direction when you really need it. The conversation later helped me recall an article sent to me earlier this year. Written by Darren Reese, sports editor of the Greeneville (Tenn.) Sun, it opens with, “God has a way of putting people into your life right when you need them the most. Little did I know I needed Tyler Summitt.” He goes on to tell how the paper sent him to an awards banquet at which 23-year-old Summitt, recently hired to lead Louisiana Tech women’s basketball program, was the keynote speaker.
Where there is a beach, there are beach bums.
Erma Bombeck said, “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”
Since I embarked on my homeschooling adventure, I wished for a homeschooling conference that was closer to home. We attended one in Knoxville two years ago. Last year, they did not have one. I don't want to travel to Nashville or Cincinnati, Ohio; or Greeneville, S.C.; or Charlottesville, Va. for a conference if I don't have to.
If I go long enough without picking up my guitar, I start to get the itch. I feel the need to play one of my favorite songs, or just tinker around and play a few riffs aimlessly.
“Face it, if it came in a bottle, everyone would have a good body.” These are Cher’s closing words in her popular Jack LaLanne Health Spa TV commercial of the mid-1980s. During the entire commercial, Cher is working out in LaLanne’s studio, displaying that she obviously follows the advice of exercising properly and choosing foods wisely in order to get the body you want. (If you weren’t around in the mid-1980s or don’t recall the commercial, you can see it on YouTube.)
It might be time to invest in dash cams if you drive around Sevierville very much.
So, in the continuing saga of my 932-mile auto trip from Gatlinburg to Flower Mound, Texas, after I survived the gale-force winds and torrential downpour in West Tennessee between Jackson and Memphis, I made my way into Arkansas, and to my second-day destination in Arkadelphia.
So, it's almost summer. Sure it has been hot, but, if you want to get technical, it's not summer yet.
I'm going to share something private. Normally I only talk about this with close friends and family members.
Quite a number of years ago, my friends Von Ogle and wife Margie sold their motel, and Margie said she wanted to get away for a long trip. My wife Jean ran into Margie at Gatlinburg’s Anna Porter Library, where Margie had been looking through some travel books. She told Jean she had decided on a trip to Spain.
Last October, about a week or so before I moved to East Tennessee, I began writing a song that had a rare quality: I enjoyed it from the moment I first felt the inspiration.
A few days ago I was telling The Mountain Press Community News Editor Kenneth Burns about some of my earlier columns in the 1970s and 1980s before my current series began in the late 1990s. (Yes, I’ll have to admit, I was a mere babe when I began.) One series was titled “Stories from the Smokies.”
Once again, a killing spree has spurred some nationwide soul searching on the topic of mental illness. This time we might not be asking the right questions.
The week before Memorial Day weekend, we received a letter from a company we do business with. It said that no matter how we spend Memorial Day weekend, we should take a moment to remember the fallen.
Sunday, June 1, 2014, is National Cancer Survivors Day. A recent notice in The Mountain Press encouraged everyone to be aware of this important day, and to go beyond the awareness by encouraging survivors and showing appreciation to these warriors who have battled the dreaded disease. Those of us who know such survivors and have knowledge of what they have gone through and continue to go through can certainly understand why they deserve encouragement and a show of appreciation.
Don Meyer died of cancer last Sunday. One of college basketball’s most successful coaches, he notched 923 wins over the course of his long career. He was 69.
Having served as master of ceremonies for the Gatlinburg Veterans Day program for many years, I have been interested in seeing the proliferation of TV commercials and programs for disabled, handicapped or paralyzed veterans recently. They have led to my paying attention to notes and articles regarding veterans as I have been sorting through files in a continuing process of eliminating some of the many items I have collected since my school days. (Just ask Jean about file cabinets, attics, storages and warehouses.)