Book It!

This will probably be the last thing I write for Campus Pressbox until July. July will also be a very light month as far as writing here is concerned. August is when the heavy hitting begins again. We have slowed the pace down, on our sports site, but August will be here before we know it, and things will then begin to rock. SEC Media Days will be behind us and fall camp will be before us. Pace yourselves, folks. It’s coming!

So what do we do with ourselves until then?

Read. No, not on social media. Get actual books. Hold them in your hand. Feel them. Smell them. Read them. Here are thirteen recommendations, from a variety of types, and in no particular order. All of the books listed below have had a big impact on me.

For fun, I’ll tie a college football team to each title so we can keep the sports theme going for all you fans. Some titles will beg for me to depart from the SEC. See if you can decipher the connections when it’s not obvious.

Fear and Loathing: On The Campaign Trail ’72 – Hunter S. Thompson. The Gonzo journalist is my favorite and this might very well be my top choice of his. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a great, iconic work of American literature, and it gets all the press. But The Good Doctor’s take on the Nixon-McGovern presidential race is also essential reading, in my humble opinion. Whittier College.

The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien. Another marvelous novel that resides, somewhat, in the shadow of Tolkien’s opus, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I was assigned The Hobbit as my first book to read for freshman English 101 at Auburn. It was a game-changer which then led, of course, to my reading of the trilogy. Alabama. Hint, their coach.

Brother to a Dragonfly – Will D. Campbell. Campbell is my hero, and his life and work had as much, or possibly more, influence on my life than anyone else. This is his masterpiece. We old renegade Baptist preachers have to stick together. Georgia Tech.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe. From The New York Times’ Eliot Fremont-Smith, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is not simply the best book on the hippies, it is the essential book… the pushing, ballooning heart of the matter… Vibrating dazzle.” We old hippies have to stick together. Sorry that I have to step out of the SEC, but this one just for the University of California at Berkeley.

On The Road – Jack Kerouac. Not stepping far from the previous Tom Wolfe recommendation. Another essential American novel. Brilliant, lucid, disturbed, wild, cavorting, mesmerizing. We old road warriors have to stick together. Mississippi State.

Ball Four – Jim Bouton. Groundbreaking, rule-breaking, eye-opening, code-of-honor shattering book about life inside the New York Yankees organization back in the 60’s. Bouton pitched for the Bronx Bombers back then. Sparky Lyle’s, The Bronx Zoo, would follow in that tradition. Fordham University.

Mockingbird’s Song, Hettie Keller’s 10 Maxims For Peace And Happiness – Arnold Heflin. Arnold is a friend of mine and an Auburn graduate. He wrote this book, a platonic love story, based on a true story, his story. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry and it might just change your life. It should be made into a movie. Beautiful. Auburn.

They Came To Nashville – Marshall Chapman. Another friend of mine. Required reading if you’re a fan of country music. Marshall interviewed Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, and Willie Nelson, along with eleven other Nashville singer-songwriters, and she shares their stories in this book that you will not be able to put down. Vanderbilt. Duh!

Skinny-dipping, Wildcat Wine, Bone Valley, and Sweetheart Deal – Claire Matturo. Claire and I studied journalism together at Troy State University, now known as Troy University. We also lived in the same trailer park for a brief period, and a good time was had by all. I am not a huge fan of fiction but this series, featuring protagonist/lawyer Lilly Belle Rose Cleary, is great fun. Smart, sharp-witted and sometimes spine-tingling crime fiction with great characters. Anybody see Kentucky in there?

A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole. “A corker, an epic comedy, a rumbling, roaring, avalanche of a book.” The Washington Post. “A masterwork… the novel astonishes with its inventiveness… it is nothing less than grand comic fugue.” The New York Times Book Review. Ole Miss.

So, take a break from social media. Try to put behind you, if only for a brief period, the madness that seeks to engulf us each and every day. Relax and immerse yourself in some entertaining, inspiring, and excellent reading this summer. And let me hear from you. Tell me what you thought about these great literary works.


But don’t forget, only 78 days remain until South Carolina and Vanderbilt kick it off. 😉



Ramblin’ 7/25/16

Fall camp begins next week for all but one or two SEC teams.

Another political convention begins tonight. It will, mercifully, be over before the weekend, just like the nightmare that was last week’s circus. Deliver us, God.

I miss Hunter S. Thompson. I would truly love to read his scathing takes on these events. Fear and loathing, no doubt.

The Braves continue to hobble along.

A few of the songs on the Apple music setlist playing now. Sundown – Gordon Lightfoot, Shotgun Willie – Willie Nelson, Slow Rollin’ Low – Waylon Jennings, and 300 Pounds of Hongry – Tony Joe White.

A quick Tony Joe story. He and Tom Kimmel, a friend of mine and many of you, had been put together by the record label they shared, years ago. They hung out, did some riding around, shared ideas, and so forth. I suppose the label expected some big collaboration. One day they were eating lunch at a place famous for fried chicken in Franklin, TN. Tony Joe leans over Tom’s plate and, in his deep slow drawl, says, “I don’t see how anybody can eat that dark meat.”

Later he asked Tom when he did his best songwriting. I don’t remember what Tom’s response was but Tony Joe said that he, “…Did his best songwriting when he was driving to Arkansas.” You really need to hear Tom tell it. He has a gift for such.

Poke… salad, UNH!

I haven’t been to a movie, at the theater, in quite some time. I don’t tend to like summer blockbusters, action, popcorn movies, etc. Woooo!!! That blowed up REAL good! I do love popcorn though. Had some last night.

Bob Dylan is now serenading me with a song entitled Isis. Nope, not that ISIS.

Auburn’s first five games will be played in the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium this fall.

I love Kroger fuel points.

I wonder how One-A-Day Multivitamins are holding up against the onslaught of vitamins and supplements we have today.

Supplements? I take Fish oil, folic acid (My how my taste in acid has changed! Gettin’ old!), probiotics, Co-Q 10, cinnamon,  B-6, and B-12. That’s in addition to the meds which my myocardial infarctions have necessitated. Yes, I have one of those damn trays that you load this stuff into by days of the week.

New setlist time. I’ll go with Rodney Crowell Essentials. Rodney wrote one of my favorite songs of all-time, Till I Gain Control Again. The first time I heard it was Willie’s cover on the ‘Willie and Family Live’ album. That was 1978. Goodness! What a great song!

There was, actually, an Apple Music option for me called ‘Songs With Parental Advice’.

Have y’all been getting some good home grown tomatoes?

We’re gonna get the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls pretty soon. Look for Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Florida State, Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Baylor, Stanford, and Notre Dame to jockey for the top ten spots.

Google or Yahoo?

Fallon or Colbert?

How about Kimmel and Conan?

Two different Kimmels in one short blog.

Burnt Siena is a good name but the crayon used to make me nervous, as did Periwinkle.

I really would like a couple of more days at the beach before school starts, but it ain’t happening.

What’s your favorite Beatles song? Stones? Those are really tough calls.

It’s been 41 years since the summer of Jaws. Yep, gettin’ old.

Speaking of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones and gettin’ old, Paperback Writer and Paint It Black were big summer hits 50 years ago, as were When A Man Loves a Woman, Hanky Panky, and Wild Thing.

Chip Taylor wrote Wild Thing. He also wrote Angel of the Morning. If you want a tip on a great record, Chip and Carrie Rodriguez did an album by the name of Red Dog Tracks. That and/or their ‘live’ record are must haves, IMHO.

Well, my daily walk ain’t gonna take itself.

Grace and peace.










Consider the Lizard (Bird 6:28)

This title was ‘adapted’ from Matthew 6:28.

“What is a lizard?
Lizards are part of a group of animals known as reptiles. They are most closely related to snakes. In fact, some lizards, called sheltopusiks, look like snakes because they have no legs! Many lizards today resemble the ancient reptiles of the dinosaur era. Their ancestors appeared on Earth over 200 million years ago.

In general, lizards have a small head, short neck, and long body and tail. Unlike snakes, most lizards have moveable eyelids. There are currently over 4,675 lizard species, including iguanas, chameleons, geckos, Gila monsters, monitors, and skinks.” Taken from the San Diego Zoo site.

See more at:

The lizard I am most familiar with is the chameleon. This is the lizard I grew up with in southwest Alabama. Chameleons are fascinating creatures. The primary reason for this is that they change colors depending on where they are stationed. It appears to me that they largely come in bright green and a dull brownish hue, but I am somewhat color blind in distinguishing these tints, so don’t take it form me.

I took my daily walk at midday and just returned a few minutes ago. As I had just turned from one street down a nearby cul-de-sac, I spotted this chameleon, his skin darkened from hurrying along the pavement, dart into some thick grass along the right-of-way.

The first thing that popped into my mind were the words, consider the lizard. That’s what prompted me to write this blog. So here I sit.

Doors lead singer, Jim Morrison, was known as ‘The Lizard King’.

“Jim Morrison wrote a poem called “The Celebration of the Lizard” that first apeared on the sleve of The Doors’ album “Waiting For The Sun.” The poem contained the line: “I am the Lizard King, I can do anything.” Fans thought Morrison was refering to himself instead of another persona Morrison created as the fictional author. The nickname stuck, and, later, the band added music and the poem was performed several times live.” This info was taken from the ‘Fun Trivia’ site.

Now back to the chameleon. “The Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis) is an arboreal lizard found primarily in the southeastern United States and some Caribbean islands. Other common names include the green anole, American anole and red-throated anole. It is also sometimes referred to as the American chameleon due to its ability to change color from several brown hues to bright green (though it is not a chameleon).”

How about that! This blog is both fun and educational!

We used to catch these lizards and ask them to “show us your money bag!” The reptile would soon produce a red, almost dime-shaped sac from under it’s neck. I was told this was an instinctual defense-like mechanism which appeared when the lizard felt threatened.

So those rascals are actually ‘red-throated anoles.’ Sounds like a bird to me.

Our dogs, particularly Layla (the female of our Bichon Frise trio), love to hunt and chase lizards. Red-throated anoles love hanging around our back door, deck and air-conditioning unit. In the warm months Layla cannot wait to go outside in search of the ‘chameleons’.

The dogs also love to chase each other and play ‘king of the mountain’ on our bed. This is called the ‘Bichon Blitz’ or ‘Bichon Buzz’. They will also race around the the kitchen, down the short hallway and around the den, barking and biting and slipping all over the faux hardwood floors. This is very entertaining.

Layla’s middle name is Lucinda. Layla is for obvious reasons if you are a music fan and know the popular Derek and the Dominos tune. Lucinda is for Lucinda Williams, who I think is one of the greatest singer-songwriters out there today, male or female. Her album ‘Car Wheels On A Gravel Road’ is an absolutely brilliant piece of work.

Layla’s brother/litter-mate is Lesh Zappa. Phil Lesh is the bassist of the Grateful Dead. Need I explain Zappa? I didn’t think so. Lesh is a very sweet little dog who loves other animals and children. But Lesh is also cursed with bladder stones an a pinched nerve so he often keeps his distance from people. His nickname is Ed.

Then there is Hunter. Hunter’s name comes from my favorite author, Hunter S. Thompson and Robert Hunter, the primary lyricist of many Grateful Dead songs. Hunter’s middle name is Garcia. Need I explain Garcia? I didn’t think so. Hunter (10) is two years younger than Lesh and Layla and is, basically, a spoiled rotten scoundrel. He whines and barks for dinner. He whines and barks for his bone/chicken rawhide stick, which is dessert. And he whines if you stop petting him. Hunter usually wins the ‘king of the mountain’ game.

Melodye with an ‘e’, Miss LeCroy, Paul, or whichever moniker you choose, LOVES HER BABIES. If you don’t like her babies, then she, probably, is not going to like you. She bathes them, trims their faces, doctors their ears and brushes their teeth. She really dotes on those little, white, furry rascals.

These puppies are not our first Bichons. We had our first one from 1990-2003. He name was Misie. Misie was given to us by Harold and Emma when we lived in Sumner County, TN. I can’t remember Harold and Emma’s last name, but they were an older couple who simply could not keep up with Misie’s energy. She had energy in spades.

Harold and Emma let Misie go potty on their deck which was covered in astroturf (I HATE astroturf AND the designated hitter but that is another story). They did not let her out into the yard without a leash.

The day I brought Misie home, as a surprise to the family, I thought she would be fine running around the huge yard which surrounded the double wide, wooden modular home we rented on Cecil Keesling’s cattle and tobacco farm.

WRONG! When I took Misie out for her first potty, she took off like a rocket all over the yard. I began to chase her. She thought it was a game. She soon darted into the adjoining pasture where we played chase for forty-five minutes. She would occasionally stop, put her head in her front paws, with her behind in the air, and wait until I got very near to her. She would then ‘buzz’ or ‘blitz’ for a short while and then… repeat… for 45 minutes.

Somehow, I finally caught Misie and brought her back to the farmhouse. She was covered in dirt, grass and cow poop. She then received her first bath, at 1025 Brinkley Branch Rd., from daddy.

Melodye thought this was one of the funniest things she had ever seen. I did not agree, at the time, but we laugh at the thought of it to this day.

Unfortunately, Misie became riddled with tumors and we had to put her down in May of 2003. This was a horrible day. I gave her her final ride to Dr. White’s office where we met Mel. I petted her the entire way and was able to share my love for her, just us two. It brings me to tears at the thought of it, even to this day.

Here is a poem I wrote for our sweet Misie:


Pure Energy, love, innocence
Haha Haha Hahahahaha… panting
Go Outside?
From Harold and Emma’s to
Dr. White…
Loved all and all loved you.
I’d give anything to hear
Just ONE more…BEEP…
There will never be another you
We miss you.

None of us are going to live forever. Cherish those you love and tell them you love them. Also do this, “Unto the least of these.”

And… AND

Consider the lizard.