Ham....

... well, The Missus just finished her weekly phonecon with The In-laws..... and it appears that we'll be whipping through Scotland again for a fortnight this May, and Italy for a fortnight in September..... mercy.... I've never been to Italy before.... but I imagine that it is quite beautiful.... I wonder how many of the locals will habla the old ingles parlare degli inglesi?......

..... personally, I can't wait for science to start in on the really important things in life and create us a babblefish that doesn't make your ear feel too weird.....

.... then again, I've managed to point and grunt my way across most of Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, France, and a little bit of Germany without speaking their languages, starving to death, OR failing to find a beer when one was necessitated..... I can't imagine that Italy will be much different, but hey, I have been wrong before.....

... in other news, don't forget that episode 3 of "The Pacific" is on HBO tonight at 9 EST.... if you enjoyed "Band of Brothers" or "Saving Private Ryan", I highly suggest you not miss tonight's showing..... it is - quite literally - a show that everyone should watch before they die..... we all need to know just exactly what those Marines did on those islands for us, for them, and for the rest of the world....

.... and so with that, I'm off to cook dinner..... salt-cured country ham, biscuits, butter, and sharp cheddar cheese....... yummy, folks, trust me...... and hey, who says you can't have ham biscuits for dinner anyway?

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Basketball.....

.... continuing my self-education in the "Appreciation of The Arts", I humbly offer you these two shiny gems that I have re-discovered over the past few days whilst cleaning my gutters and listening to the only radio station that my antique Walkman can still pick up after being stowed for the past ten years in a box in my old closeted seabag....

... firstly, "Ole Iz".... Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole..... a man with the voice of an angel.....


... and secondly, Basia Bulat with "Before I Knew".... I do believe it was used in a commercial recently...... but still, I loved the lyrics......

.... the funny thing is, with my eyes closed?.... the two singers remind me so much of each other..... beautiful voices, sure.....

... and with that, I'm off to see if Mr. Pearl can finally drag the Volunteers into the Elite 8 for the first time in Tennessee history.......

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Losing....

..... here's a short clip of my buddy Gary - mentioned in the post below - kicking my ass back in July of 2007....... anyone want to play "name that tune"?........

.... youtube is in high def now, so feel free to crank the volume and expand to see everything just that little bit larger......

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Social....

..... the evening is settling in here now..... the trees are showing the first signs of budding, and the season's first daffodils are already peeking up here and there through the leaf-strewn ground of the woods..... it was mild and sunny - surprising, really, in that way that a Southern spring arrives so gently.....

... it was a bit of a traumatic day, too, in retrospect.... I suppose that I am more than a little bit saddened by my beautiful afternoon drive to and from the mountains outside of Tellico...... see, I visited my old buddy Gary today, and he's not doing too well...... back in the heyday of the "Eagle Glen Social Club", he was the fellow that I always referred to as "the guy in the witness protection program"....

.... an incredibly gifted man, he was a jack of all trades..... from fixing antique clocks, to gunsmithing, to inlaying turquoise, ivory, and polished buffalo horn into my old Fender guitar, he knew how to do just about everything.... and when he too a job to do, you could be sure that it was done to perfection..... that was just the kind of artistic, spirited, patient, steady, and skilled man that he was...

... I remember the first time that I met him..... I was taking my Mother's pistol to him to see if he could come up with an idea of how to make the front sight blade more visible to an old pistol-packing Momma..... (a problem that he solved by inlaying a tiny piece of ivory in the center of the blade.)...... I pulled off onto his gravel driveway - easing between the thick trees that surrounded his home - and found him in his garage benchpressing 200lbs....a short man with a shaved head, thick chest, wise-ass Northern accent.... we talked guns, the military, and how to off most of the locals.... and we became instant friends.... he even attended the Hysterics at Eric's year before last - so some of you might have met him....

.... today he sat in his recliner as we talked, and I reminded him of the time that he "fixed" my garage door..... we'd all been whooping it up out by the pool table.... drinking, listening to music, telling jokes, lies, etc.... and, of course, shooting pool.... and like an idiot, I grabbed the garage door and started doing pull-ups.... after the second one, it creaked loudly..... and the center of my two-car garage door was bent six inches downwards...... Gary walked over, picked up my step ladder, carefully placed it in just the right place, climbed up, and with ONE hand he pushed upwards until the bend was forced out of the sheet metal garage door...... he was small in stature, but he was as strong as a bull.......

... he laughed today and held up the arm that he had used that day - now swollen to twice the size of his other arm due to blood clots, a fragile heart, and a life-threatening infection....

.... when I had called over the weekend to tell him that I was planning to visit if he was accepting visitors, I inquired as to if he might like me to bring him lunch since he is homebound...... he said no.... "No, Eric.... I don't need a thing... and besides, there is plenty of food here in the house."..... I said OK, and told him that I'd likely just bring a bunch of Krispy Kreme donuts if he'd make the coffee.......

.... I arrived today to be immediately told, "Hey!.... Your lunch is in the fridge!.... Every time that we come to your house you give us coffee and food.... so I sent my son out to the deli to get you a sandwich!.... it's time that I feed YOU!"....

..... "Gary", I said, "I didn't mean for you to make me lunch!.... I meant that I could bring something if you wanted a treat..."..... "Bullshit, Eric.... you said you were coming over for lunch, so I have your lunch for you!".....

.... "You cranky old bastard, I didn't say that I WAS COMING over for lunch, I said that I COULD BRING something for lunch!"....

.... he sat back and smiled.... "Well, either way, that's your sandwich..... EAT YOUR LUNCH!.... you're here, and you're going to eat.".....

.... and so, I ate my sandwich.... roasted turkey breast with lettuce, mayo, mustard, and jalapeno cheese...... and it was a very, very good sandwich.....

... oh, and he made me chase it down with a Rolling Rock as well....... the evil, evil man...... and instead of the donuts, I gave him a box of Girlscout cookies instead..... the best kind, of course.... Samoas...

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Wow.....

... in other news, Big Stupid Tommy is most decidedly insane.......

.... here......

.... what say you?..... I mean, I love the guy, and I love to watch the man eat nachos, but that post?........ methinks he is borderline...... and not in the Madonna kind of way......

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Spider.....

.... sing along....... it's a beauty that I love well......

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Elliot......

.... watching tonight's movie, I just have shouted five different times that "THERE was a shot that I would love to have hanging on my wall"...... the movie is just epic...... absolutely epic...... and it is no wonder that cinematographers have frothed at the mouth every time they have seen it since it was first displayed on the silver screen.......

..... as for me?..... I remember being ill in 10th grade and bedridden.... and while my mother worked away at the back of the house, I lay awake on the couch - full of fever - and watched "Laurence of Arabia" for the first time.....

.... I suppose the sights of those hardy gentlemen roving the desert kindled my life-long dream - to trek from Casablanca to Alexandria via caravan........ camel caravan.........

...... nowadays, I suspect that I'd need an armed guard....... but, wow..... can you imagine?...... I've been to the arctic..... and I have been to the jungle....... but I have never been to such a desert.......... and I do think that I would love it so.....

.....I mean, just let this little bit soak in for a while..... behold....

...... it reminds me so much of certain scenes in "Jeremiah Johnson"..... another great film that I dearly love......

.... shadows can be such beautiful things!.........

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Paddy.....

.... Happy St. Patrick's Day, children...... I'm not of Irish descent, but hey, a holiday is a holiday, right?...... anyway, here's a llittle clip that I took last September of Ireland at her most enigmatic...... I hope that you enjoy...

.... not a bad place to play some fiddlede-dee music, eh?....... and really?.... he looked pretty damned content with his lot in life.....

... and you know?.... may we all be so lucky!.....

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Church.....

... when I was about six years old my family relocated from Madisonville, Tennessee southwards to a border-feud middle-ground area halfway between Englewood and Etowah... if memory serves, I do believe that we had an Etowah telephone number and an Englewood address - which kept us quite confused through most of my childhood....

... all in all, though, we gravitated towards the smaller town of Englewood for most of our family fun.... I went to grammar school there, I played little league baseball there, we preferred the community swimming pool there as well, and I was on the swim team from the age of 6 until I left for the Corps at 17....

.... we also went to church in Englewood every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and usually on Wednesday evenings as well....

.... for those of you schooled in the Culture of The South, I'll not mention the exact denomination of Charismatic Pentecostal Evangelical Protestant Christianity that we practiced..... but I will say that we made the good ole Southern Baptists look like Episcopalians....... as a matter of fact, if my church had been located about twenty miles further east, we'd probably have had snake handling sessions in between choir recess and the beginning of the sermon..... indeed that church was, and remains, quite hardcore when it comes to the flexing of the Jesus muscles....

.... be that as it may, I was reminded of an incident yesterday evening whilst chatting with my Mother..... she came through her recent elbow surgery with flying colors, and the happy side effect of her popping pain killers on a regular basis for a week is that she now enjoys telling all manner of tales from mine and my brother's childhood to anyone who will listen..

.... the latest installment being the time that I snuck away from Vacation Bible School and hid myself in the janitor's closet lest I be forced to prove that I hadn't spent the time and effort to memorize my Bible verse of the day..... now that infraction in itself was bad enough, but when my eyes became accustomed to the darkness of the closet and found the loose tile which would allow access to the attic of the church?.... well, I took being "bad" to a whole new level...

.... the church was situated in an inverted T-shape, with the front door being located at the base of the T..... the sermon was delivered at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical lines of the T.... and the horizontal line representing the class rooms and offices..... well, the closet was right on the other side of the wall from where the preacher delivered his sermons.....

.... so, as you do, I climbed up into the attic - not really an attic at all, I guess - more of just ceiling joists with fiberglass insulation stapled between them...... and using these joists that were placed every 24 inches or so, I gingerly made my way along them until I was peering out the vent over the front door of the church....

.... and there I stood, happily watching the world go by.... and knowing that there was nooooo way anyone was going to find me in my newly found hiding place..... and that is when I saw the preacher roll up outside..... and just as he headed for the front door of the church, Miss Polly comes running, screaming, and flapping her arms about "missing a child"....

.... I was mortified....... I stood at the little vent and watched as the preacher began a mad dash for the front door of the church to begin helping with the search...... and it was at this point that I panicked into action.... and that, as they say, is always your downfall...... for lo, folks, panic is not your friend..... and you can trust me on that......

.... now, had I been a seasoned, tried-n-true fella like I am now, I would have completely gotten away with my little soire into the attic.... alas, though, I was only twelve back then..... and in retrospect, my fate was probably sealed the minute that I decided to hide in the first place.....

.... I spun away from the vent as soon as I heard the front door slam..... and I began to hit the joists faster and faster with my tiny little feet as I heard the hurried orders being barked by the preacher below.... "Did you check every room?!.... How long has he been gone!?.... Does he have family within walking distance of here?!?"..... with each new query, I knew that my ass was grass when my Mother found out that I'd bailed on Vacation Bible School....... and my feet sped up - hitting those upturned 2X4's as fast as I could...... my heart was thumping in my chest as I made it to the halfway point....... I could still hear the preacher screeching his way towards the pulpit below me..... I looked up for a split second to see how much further I had to go, and in doing so, I missed the joist.......

.... the preacher and Miss Polly most likely heard the little muffled scream before they heard the "pop", and then the tinkling of mangled ceiling tiles dinging off the oaken pews below..... I still can't help wondering what went through their mind when they turned to see the spectacle of my scrawny right leg dangling from the ceiling in the absolute CENTER of the church..... oh, and did I mention that this was 3pm on a Saturday?...... yes, indeed......

..... so, yeah..... once upon a time, on a lazy summertime Saturday long ago, I fell through the ceiling of my ultra-God fearing church..... was I punished?..... sure, as far as I can recall...... but luckily a gentleman who frequented the church was also a builder..... so a quick call to him had the ceiling patched up before Sunday morning's church services began...... but, it being a bit of an old church, those replacement tiles were just that tiny bit off in color...... and every Sunday after that when I attended, Dad would poke me in the ribs, scowl, smile, and then slowly turn his face heavenwards towards the three virginally white tiles in the center of the church....... Mom always hated that he smiled at me after he scowled.......

..... I think she'd told him to just scowl every Sunday when he reminded me, but he just didn't have it in him to browbeat me for something that he'd most likely have been up to himself if he'd have even GONE to church when he was a lad......

..... as for me?..... well, I haven't been to that church in 15 years or more, yet I drive by it nearly every day.... but really?...... well, I just can't wait to see what Mom remembers the next time she has a surgery.....

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Porlock....

.... for T1G.... who just happens to be in a Coleridge kinda mood lately...... behold...


..... the story goes that he was busily penning the above poem whilst completely bombed on opium when a certain "person from Porlock" came along and snapped him out of his concentration/vision/dream/hallucination and the rest of the poem was lost..... thus the secondary title of "A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment"......

... still, though..... pretty rich imagery for a stoner..... and hey, lately?... it seems that a person from Porlock is camping out by the woodpile behind my house..... and they've worn a grove in the path from the patio to my back door to ask about basketball scores...... after all, if IS March......

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Audi.....

..... I tooled up to Knoxville yesterday to drop Blanche off for her 5,000 mile spa treatment at Harper Audi, and ended up chatting with one of their salesmen for a few minutes...... I'd been over checking out the new A5 two-door coupe (along with a few of the new Porsche models that they had on display), and I happened to tell the guy how much I was looking forward to going inside the showroom and gazing upon their Audi R-8....

... yo, Denny?.... Yabu?.... have you two nuts seen this on TV yet?...

... anyway, the salesman went on to tell me that I was out of luck in regards to the R-8 viewing..... it seems that they had a fellow order one pre-production two years ago, and after driving it for a month or two he realized just how "in demand" they were... so he took the 145K Audi back to the dealership and had them try to sell it for him..... and they did....... with him making a cook 40K over what he had paid for the car in comfy profit......

.... evidently Audi doesn't produce that many of the R-8s... and only 250 of them were imported into the US last year.......

.... but wow, can you imagine buying a car, and then turning around immediately and selling it for forty grand more than you paid for it?.... evidently the waiting list for the R-8 was so long back then, that people were more willing to pay an extra 40K over dealer markup rather than sit around for 18 months waiting for theirs to be delivered....

.... amazing......

.... as for me, I think I'll stick with my little A4 Cabriolet, Blanche, thank you very much...... at least for the meantime, I mean...... that A5 looked pretty nifty yesterday...... we shall see...

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Screenplay....

.... so I'm kicking back last night enjoying a few episodes of 'Band of Brothers', when The Missus decides to tell me a little bit about the book she is reading - 'Forrest Gump'.....

... now, I've watched the movie every time that I run across it on the tube, and I must say that I truly enjoy it.... it really is one of those movies that you can watch over and over, and still laugh at the stupid parts every single time..... so, as you may have guessed, I was quite interested in hearing about her experience in reading THE BOOK versus what I knew about THE FILM..... and in a word?.... WOW.....

..... I think that my eyes glazed over somewhere between the cannibals catching him, him learning to speak orangutan, horny male orangutans in space trying to fondle female astronauts, Forrest convincing the cannibal chieftain not to barbecue him, the orangutan, or the girl due to his having amazing skills at the game of chess (and, of course, the cannibal chieftain was a HUGE chess fan), and Forrest dressed as 'The Monster from the Black Lagoon' carrying a scantily clad Raquel Welch down Sunset Strip whilst talking orangutanese to the orangutan.....

.... and no, I am not making any of that up..... at.all....

..... how screenwriters could take that novel and turn it into the movie that we all know and love, well, quite frankly it is beyond my scope of understanding....

..... I'm definitely going to have to give that book a read though..... if just to try to figure out what exactly the author was stoned on when he began to put pen to paper.....

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Arms.....

..... so, The Sainted Mother is off to the local sawbones tomorrow morning to endure a day-surgery that is to be performed on her left arm.... and she is a hardcore southpaw, so this could be interesting for the next few days........

.... I called her this afternoon to ask her the particulars, and she queried thusly:

SM: "My sister is picking me up tomorrow morning, driving me down, and waiting for the surgery to finish... and then I will be staying with her for a few days."

Me:..... "...that's excellent, Mom!... I will give you a call tomorrow evening to see how you're feeling, ok?".....

SM: "Ok. Are you coming down to sit tomorrow?"....

Me: .... "ummm.... no, I hadn't planned on it..... why?..... Kathy will be there, right?"...

SM: "Well, yeah. But I thought you might like to come along for moral support for me."

Me: .... "Mom, you're going to be unconscious."

SM: "Heh! Just you wait until something happens and you need to go to the doctor!.. I'm going to say, 'What? Hey, you are in GREAT hands with the Doctor there! You don't need me there!'"

Me: ....".... and that'd be just fine, Mom..... hey, good luck tomorrow!"....

SM: "Harrumph."

..... I suspect that plans are afoot to write my narrow ass out of the will as I type this.......

.... in completely unrelated news though, I read today that today - March 9th - is the 65th anniversary of the firebombing of Tokyo during WWII..... check this out - it's from one of those little "This Day in History" calendars that I got for Christmas this year...

On this day in 1945, U.S. warplanes began a new and deadly bombing mission against Japan, dropping two thousand incendiary bombs on Tokyo within forty-eight hours. The firebombing of the Japanese capital incinerated 16 square miles, killing between 80,000 and 100,000 Japanese civilians. Earlier that morning U.S. General Curtis LeMay told his men that they were going to "deliver the biggest firecracker the Japanese had ever seen." Before the raid, crews had stripped each of the B-29 Superfortress bombers of all their guns - except the turret gun - to increase each plane's bomb load capacity by 65 percent. The raid lasted more than three hours. The air crews could smell the sickening stench of burning flesh as they completed their mission.

.... payback for Pearl Harbor was done in spades, spades, and double spades......

..... and for those of you who thought 'Band of Brothers' was amazing, 'The Pacific' begins this Sunday at 9pm...... and it promises to be one of the most amazing real-life dramas ever done regarding warfare....... personally, having read Sledge's book AND "Helmet for my Pillow" ages ago, I cannot wait to see them put on film..... the combat in the Pacific was completely different than the march across Europe...... if you've never read Sledge's book - and you want to know what history is all about - I suggest you do yourself a favor and read it.... slowly.... and more than once.....

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Moonshine......

...... there are members of my family who are quite, well, what is the word?...... colorful?..... and that, dear friends, is a gross understatement......

..... sure, I have traveled, I have read, I have lived abroad, I've even tried to write........ hell, I own more than two pairs of shoes, a tuxedo, Danner combat boots, Justin cowboy boots, AND a silk Punjabi...... and while I am still many things to many people, I am still Just Me...... and I am as much my grandfather's grandson as I am my father's son...... and I am still my senior drill instructor's high shooter........

..... for we hillbillies, as a people, are more than just a little bit complicated, if you know what I mean......

... anyway, I played host to my Sainted Mother yesterday here, and we enjoyed a nice meal of broiled filet steak, roasted potatoes, cole slaw, and homemade creamed corn....... and it was a fabulous meal...... but at the END of the meal, she handed me a wrinkled old newspaper clipping to read concerning my Great Uncle Marvin.........

.... Jesus Christ, I could not quit laughing as I read it........

.... and so, for those of you who think you know me, here is a quick transcript of the clipping....... and of course, the names have been changed to protect the Guilty....... behold.....

The Tri-County Observer, November 29, 1978

THE REMAINS of Mr. XXXXXXX's still are shown outside the Monroe County Jail after arresting officers smashed it to prevent further use. (Photo by Sarah Cardin)

Being arrested every 39 years too often?

Marvin XXXXXXX was arrested Friday, the 24th, while working on the coil of a moonshine still at his residence, Englewood Rt. 1.

Monroe County officers Joe Graves, Garland Watson, Mac Williams, Conward Bivens, and two federal revenue agents arrived at the XXXXXXX property at 2:50 p.m armed with a search warrant. Three steel caps were found in the attic, one-half gallon of white whiskey was in the closet behind the heater, and a quart jar in another part of the house. Also located in the house was a large barrel.

THE COPPER POT was found in the hog pen. A large barrel of mash was in the hollow by the barn.

The arrest report listed XXXXXXX's occupation as "moonshiner", and his place of business as "behind the barn".

XXXXXXX commented that it had been 39 years since he had been locked up. He added, "I guess they'll keep me a long, long time this time."

The elderly man, dressed in typical mountain garb, was reported to have been very cooperative with the arresting officers.

"I USED TO DRINK a whole lot of whiskey," XXXXXXX said, "and they used to have to lock me up a lot. But now I only take a sup every now and then for this tumor that I have in my throat."

Officers smashed the still after it was unloaded outside the jail. The two jars of white whiskey were locked in the jail safe. (to be enjoyed later by the deputy, no doubt - ADDED by ME, Eric)

XXXXXXX was charged with possession of white whiskey and possession of moonshine still parts. He will appear before Sessions Court on December 11th. Bond was set for 1,000 dollars on each count.

.... damn, folks....... his place of business was listed as "behind the barn"........ I wonder - since it is census season - if I should have some fun with the scribes and tell them that my "place of business" is "in the blogroom"........ after all, our apples don't appear to have fallen that far from the poetic tree, eh?.....

... then again, maybe they'd sic the revenuers on me for being so bawdy!.....

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Tongues......

..... a week ago I discovered that I had a happy family of black carpenter ants making their way into my spare bedroom for late-nite drinks of water..... and while I do consider myself a most gracious host who truly enjoys entertaining visitors of all kinds, I just couldn't abide with them munching away on my flooring joists & bunking in my insulation uninvitedly....... and so, as you do, I rang up the local exterminator-type folks........

...... and upon their arrival at The Compound here, I was sheepishly told that I am also harboring a healthy family of termites as well..... Marvon's verdict?....... a cool 700 bones to rid myself of every manner of creepy-crawly that one can imagine might one day in the future harsh my proverbial mellow....

...... who knew that a couple thousand million insects could create such a havoc?..... and I'm not 100% sure, but I bet that I could probably have myself drop-shipped an anteater from Darkest Africa for less than 700 bucks.....

.... or maybe get one of you Texican readers to mail me an armadillo.... don't those things eat ants and termites?.... hell, I could just lock it in the crawlspace and let it nibble itself all the ants and termites it could locate.....

.... I wonder what kind of license one would need to own an African anteater anyway.......

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Time....

.... I've spent the last couple days of My Great Sickness going through some old family albums, reading, writing, and thinking......

... and at the end of the day?.... well, not much has come out of it except that I now realize that I was a complete redhead from day number one....... hey, I'm a 1972 model - and my little brother is a 77 model....... so, that makes me 6 years old in this winter picture..... and that makes my little brother about 1 and a half.....

brothers_small.jpg

.... oh, my how the times have changed....... it's quite sad at times, I guess........ but it is still nice to look back on gentler times, and see me holding his hand and smiling..........

..... photos, folks....... snapshots of life can make you happy, and blow your mind at the same time......... in a snapshot, we are forever frozen as We Were.......

.... but the Lens of Time shows us many different things........

....... I love old photographs, really....... they are full of What Might Have Been...... and I love to look at that Idea and wonder........

... and tonight?...... well, I wonder what the hell he was looking at while I smiled at the camera......

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Lies...

.... man, I just LOVED this post by Big Stupid Tommy.........

... and it so reminded me of the time that I caught Mr. McDowell staring at The Missus' breasts last year at the DragonCon in Atlanta...... (which reminds me, after searching the archives, I just realized that I never wrote about the incident.... hmmmm... I need to rectify that, I guess....)

...... honestly, you can't make this stuff up..... well, not me, I mean..... but Tommy certainly can......

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