Dammit Boy!

 I don't usually post stuff from others, but this is from my brother Les.  He has what our parents used to call a "smart aleck" sense of humor, or something like that.  You can judge for yourself. Names were changed (except for his) to protect the innocent and the guilty. Jim Arnold Dammit Boy!        Names can be confusing. Monikers of all types have been chosen or assigned to people. There are first names, middle names, last names, proper names, given names, nicknames, pet names, aliases as well as derogatory or descriptive names assigned by others or even themselves. Names can be shortened, truncated, even the pronunciation of a name can be altered. Generally, people accept the name commonly assigned to them by their inner circle of friends and family.      All of this can cause confusion for a five-year-old boy. I was never the sharpest knife in the drawer anyway. Some sociological interactions escape me. At five I tended to answer to whatever I assumed was meant to r

Bush League

      Mama didn’t have much luck growing flowers and plants in the yard.  Almost everything she planted, with the exception of the family garden, was dug up, torn apart, eaten or otherwise inhumanely tortured and killed by me, my brothers and our dog.  We were allowed an enormous amount of playtime in the yard, and often invented things to do that she may not have approved of if we had thought to ask her before we did them. It was a hard thing to remember, for example, to turn the hose off after it had been turned on, and it was only after a couple of hours that we discovered the mud hole we had accidentally created right where she had just planted gardenias was absolutely perfect for mud wrestling, and we couldn’t resist the temptation.  Neither could the dog. Evidently newly planted gardenias come up easily when surrounded by water and a mud wrestling contest, and while she did notice their plight when she thought we had been too quiet for too long and came out to see what we were do


        Where did public education run off the rails?  When did we surrender our pact with children to those only interested in education as a new avenue of personal enrichment? Like most revolutions, it didn’t happen all at once, but over time and with the same ultimate effects - resegregation, the denigration of the teaching profession and indoctrination rather than real education.  You remember real education, don’t you?  It wasn’t so long ago the purpose of education was still to give students the skills required to develop in an orderly, sequential, age appropriate process into contributing, functioning members of society; to teach students critical thinking and to provide basic reasoning skills. An overabundance of educational initiatives in the past 25 years or so have served to incrementally replace critical thinking as the primary goal with social constructs and standardized test prep that have no business in classrooms or school buildings. My belief is the collective and indi

Delta Dawn, Wher'd You Learn That Blue Note Song?

   People still argue about where the musical genre Blues came from.  Some say Memphis, some say St. Louis, and some say other places in between, but if you’ve ever driven a dirt road through the Delta on a Friday night in the summertime with the windows down and the bugs hitting the windshield and the radio turned up loud on a Delta AM station you’ll know for sure the Blues came from right by God HERE and you can feel it in your head and your heart.  If you can identify with that feeling then I might know your people, and the chances are better than even that we’re related somewhere back down some hidden genealogical or geographic line.   I think it’s pretty safe to say that Memphis used to be part of the Delta.  Geographically and musically it still is, but they went and got all citified and international on us and only Beale Street and few barbeque places are left to show how it used to be.  Most of it is just like any other big city and nothing really special except for Graceland. 

The Hollerin' Tree

       Most of you know what I mean when I say “holler.” Like many Southern colloquialisms, it can have several meanings, and context is everything. When I tell you that Uncle Rufus and Ain’t Sally live directly east about 5 miles from us down in a holler, that has nothing to do with yelling and everything to do with the small valley where they live.  If, on the other hand, I were about to enter a holler where I thought there might be a still, I would holler loudly before I entered so my relatives wouldn’t think it was revenoors sneaking in to interfere with their alcohol production systems.  They don’t take kindly to visitors of any type, but will occasionally tolerate relatives for short periods of time, especially if they don’t drink.      My Dad was a world class profanicist, and used profanity sprinkled around in everyday conversation like most people use salt on their butterbeans.  He’d been doing it so long the words just seemed to flow naturally without sounding forced or unnat

Now That All Else Has Failed, Ask Your Teacher

 Now That All Else Has Failed , Ask Your Teacher       I have been personally subjected to and persecuted by a rather large number of educational revolutions devised by experts to provide solutions to problems the experts themselves discovered or even created.  The very first was in elementary school in the early 60’s when we were subjected to “New Math” because if we didn’t improve our national test scores the Russians would establish world dominance through Sputnik and the race to space that would end The American Way as we knew it.  It was quickly obvious to us that our teacher was rather confused about the entire process but dutifully tried her best to implement those processes and teaching methodologies to the extent she understood them, and she managed to struggle through the year without actually crying in front of us.  We eventually overcame our fear and loathing of math through years of intensive remedial efforts by junior high and high school teachers, and learned to trust tr