Thursday’s This & That & Maybe the Other

Last night was clear and below freezing. I was out at about 10 and noticed Orion out for his evening stroll, way off to the southwest. He’ll be gone for the warm months soon.
I suspect I might not ever see him standing on his head again. That was a marvel to those of us used to the northern array of stars.

Years ago, my friend Stephen Humble told me that Turkish, which he studied to entertain himself, had distinct words for “this” and “that” but also “the other.” I’ve never verified that. I don’t think I will. Absolute certainty about small things is overrated. I overrate it myself.

Here’s one way, among so very many, to realize how little you really know: watch a few episodes of Only Connect. Then again, some of the clues are like those given in crossword puzzles sometimes, so vague as to be worthless. At least that’s why I believe I’ve never had much use for crosswords.

For something completely different, listen to a few songs by the Chickasaw Mudd Puppies. I like that name. Apparently they had their moment in Athens, Ga., in the early ’90s. Their sound reminds me of some of the live music in Nashville in the mid-80s, which inspires a touch of nostalgia.

Today I read that there aren’t any Goodyear Blimps any more. Not really. Goodyear now markets itself with semirigid dirigibles, which will be called blimps anyway. I would ride in a semirigid dirigible, certainly, but that isn’t quite the same as a blimp, is it?

Alabama Weekend ’87

Winter has asserted itself after a namby-pamby early phase. It reached about 40 degrees F on Saturday. Now, according to weather data available instantly online — another small marvel of the age — it’s about 3 degrees F. Tomorrow will be likewise gelid.

In early 1987, I was offered a job in Chicago, which I took. The second weekend of the year, I took a final road trip from Nashville, to see a friend in Alabama.

January 9, 1987

After lunch at Mary’s barbecue [still in business] and wrapping up bits of work during the afternoon, Mike and I left town in my car. It was cold and rainy all the way into Alabama. Ate dinner in Huntsville, some surprisingly good Mexican food [I didn’t note the name]. Stopped along the way a number of times for Mike to smoke his cigarettes. We met Dan at 11:30 pm at the Huddle House off I-20 in Anniston, and from there followed him to his place.

Dan and Susan have rented a modern log cabin in rural Alabama way the hell from anything (this weekend, Susan was away, so it was just the three of us). Two stories, a basement, a pond and a cat. Very pleasant. Before doing to sleep, we drank beer and watched some ’30s and ’40s cartoons on tape.

Two kids knocked on the door — 16 or 17 from the looks of them — claiming they’d run their car into a ditch and wanting to use the phone. After some deliberation, we decided that they had run their car into a ditch during a drunken episode. It took them a good while to decide who to call. Then they asked for some of our beer and were angry when we refused, but did nothing more than leave. I’d hate to go through life as stupid as those two.

January 10

We ate and played games and watched movies on video. Actually only one movie all the way through, Rambo (Rambo: First Blood Part II), which of course we’d all heard of, but none of us had seen. We also watched parts of The Battleship Potemkin and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. [For variety, I guess.] Games: Trivial Pursuit, darts, and Risk. Dan won Risk, but it was a close one. At one point I lorded over the Americas and had footholds in Europe and Asia, but a weak point was exploited and my forces crumpled like an aluminum can.

January 11

Sunday we left at a reasonable hour (11) and drove to Atlanta. We met Layne and her co-worker Shelly, a transplant from Pennsylvania with big eyes, at the Sheraton Northlake. Had lunch at Athens Pizza, which I’d been to on a previous visit. The first place I’d ever had feta cheese pizza. A fine lunch. [I’m glad to learn that Athens Pizza is still around.] But we didn’t stay much longer, driving back to Nashville in the afternoon.

… And a Hell of an Engineer

I can’t say that I remember much about the Georgia Tech-W. Carolina game, but I was there 30 years ago. I was visiting a friend that I knew from Vanderbilt who lived in Atlanta at the time. Before VU, she’d attended Georgia Tech for a semester or a year or some time. It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon, so off we went.

Ramblin' WreckSomething I do remember: after parking, and as we walked to the stadium along with a stream of other game-goers, we passed by street vendors. One of them, who was selling peanuts — guess that might be goober peas — had a sign telling everyone that they were now entering the Peanut Zone. It was lettered in imitation of the Twilight Zone font — which I just learned seems to be an actual font.

Tech took the game, 24-17. I had to look that up. In our time, that was amazingly easy.

Either before or after, we went to the Varsity to eat, since I’m pretty sure the Peanut Zone, while it made us chuckle a little, didn’t inspire us to buy peanuts. The flagship Varsity near Georgia Tech, that is. I probably had a chili dog. That’s the thing to do there.