Best-of-breed, I suppose; these are the entries that felt right when they were posted and -- to me at least -- still stand as excellent examples of why I write here.

I know this much is true

I've decided that the best way to handle such a deeply bizarre situation as this one is to treat it like the ludicrous thing it is; something so dumbfounding and jaw-dropping that, well, all you can do is just laugh, because there isn't a rule in the rule book for this sort of special circumstance.

Everyone over the age of twelve likes to fancy themselves the keenest, most astute judge of human nature to walk this earth, myself included. Luckily enough, most of the time, the fact that you're deluding yourself only sends you out on a couple of bad dates or leads you to bet on the wrong sports team in the Super Bowl.

Eight tenths

Ever notice how much we crave understanding from others? It is one of the guiding forces behind our interactions with other people. Failing the ability to allow another to truly see through our eyes, we resort to words. When we talk, we take the best option available to us: we fence with words to (gently or forcefully) turn our conversation partner so that they see the world from a perspective as closely matching our own as possible.

Words aren't magic, though they sometimes might feel like it. For those of us unable to communicate through art or music, they're our best hope of closing the gap betweeen others and ourselves.Sometimes they just can't suffice.

That seems to be my theme for the year: words that just don't manage to say it all, despite my best attempts to make it so.

More trees

There's not much between Huntsville and Birmingham, except somewhere near an hour and a half of scenery that can be compressed into approximately three minutes of equally unexciting viewing:

"Look. Trees."
"More trees."
"Is there anything else to see?"
"More trees, I think."
"Are we there yet?"
"Given that we left five minutes ago, and it takes nearly an hour and a half to get there, I think that highly unlikely."

It's a pity, really; Alabama seems to be missing some of the out-and-out oddness that is the freeway scenery in Arkansas. Anyone who has driven I-30 has encountered one of the most famous (and enduring) billboards in central Arkansas:

Enormous capital letters, the billboard equivalent of a shout:


Darwinian Domesticat #2: Movie theatre-goers

If you've ever had any doubts about the varied and magnificent species that is Homo sapiens, might I suggest you head to your nearest movie theater? There, even the most casual of viewer can meet many of our species' most colorful and interesting specimens…

…and want to kill them all.Some anthropological notes from our previous expeditions follow. Some of these breeds are flighty, rarely seen, and must be observed with the greatest of care.

Captain and Mrs. Obvious

Queen of Flames

He wrapped his hands around the martini glass. I watched, with one eye on my pad thai and the other on his finger, which idly swirled his toothpick-speared cocktail olives around in his glass.

Call me a professional eavesdropper, but it's pretty hard not to pay attention when you're trying to have a quiet dinner with your spouse at the local Thai restaurant, and the flaming queen sitting at the bar is asking the waiter, "So what are the rules on orgies in Alabama? How many people does it have to be? Fifteen, sixteen?"

Eat your pad thai, girl, I thought. He's drunk, he's getting drunker, and it's just going to get funnier—as long as he doesn't realize that anyone's listening to him…

Say goodnight, Gracie

Lot A was for the newer cars. Lot B was for trucks, vans, ATVs, SUVs, and anything that didn't quite qualify as a "car." Lot C was for older cars.

We were the sixtieth car in Lot C at tonight's auction down in Cullman. While waiting for the first fifty-nine cars to be processed, Jeff and I had plenty of time to talk over how much we wanted our reserve price to be. We knew we wouldn't get a lot of money for the car—it was, after all, an eight-year-old Sundance—but we wanted to see if we could do better than the trade-in offer we'd received.

On the drive down to the auction, I found myself laughing as I thought about all of the places this little car has taken me since 1994. Nine states: Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois.