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Thursday, May 29, 2003

A brief moment of fiction

"You usually don't sit and eat."

The waitress was the kind who had a story all her own, but she wouldn't tell it while standing at the counter. The three old men watching the Braves get shelled on the old TV would complain. They might have heard the story before. I had not. Nor would I.

"I'm usually supposed to be somewhere." I was slowly poking at a pile green beans that had been cooked down to slightly less that a ham-flavored dark green mass. I loved them that way. That was how Grandma cooked them.

"Not tonight?" she asked, pouring another cup of coffee for the last guy at the counter. He was in the middle of a long diatribe about endorsement contracts and those damned Cubans. I gathered he wasn't talking about cigars.

"Not tonight." I didn't feel like offering much more. If she cared, and I caught a look in her eye that indicated she just might, she probably didn't want to hear the whole story anyway. She wouldn't believe it at any rate.

"It's the Dominicans you're talking about." Old guy number two was snuffing out his third cigarette since I sat down. The sun setting through the plate glass windows caught the smoke and made the old guy look a little like he belonged in Hollywood.

My truck--the new red one that sat out near the road--probably hadn't cooled off yet, but I was ready to get on the road again. Even the diner on the edge of town wasn't quite far enough away.

"New truck out there." The waitress was on her elbows a couple of feet down from my near-finished plate.

"Don't ask if it's got a Hemi. It doesn't." I was trying to be funny, but I don't think she got it. Old "Cuban" Guy looked over his shoulder in the direction of the truck, but didn't say anything.

In six or seven bites I would be on my way out to the truck, having neglected to ask the waitress if she wanted to ride shotgun, having neglected to explain the true downfall of American sport to the old guys, and having forgotten to tell anybody I knew in the whole damned town that I was never coming back.

I ate slowly before tipping the woman enough to thank her for sending me on my way.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003


Remember those old TV shows where editors kept a bottle of antacids in their desk drawer? Or the shows where the frustrated newsman makes a cocktail of Pepto and Scotch? Step into my office, friends. It ain't a joke.

Nevermind. I don't have the will to make this worth reading right now.

Bring on Bradoween. That, my friends, is something I can organize.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

DATELINE-- Damn it

The Washington Post reports today that my writing hero, Rick Bragg, will resign from the New York Times. Actually, the word is quit. Resign just sounds to dainty for what's actually happening here.

This business sometimes makes my liver hurt. I've learned some things about my hero in the last few days. I was fully prepared to hate him if the facts ended up branding him a plagarist or something worse. As it turns out, he's a writer--and a damned good one--who participated in a little-known (at least outside the newspaper world) practice of "getting the dateline." In short, it was a technicality. Bragg collected bits of string from a variety of sources, wrote some stories on a plane en route to the dateline city, and then dictated the longhand text of some of his stories from the airport of said dateline cities. That is, he wore out his ass on airplane seats rather than wear out his shoe leather on America's southern streets. Why? I dunno. Common practice, maybe. Deadline pressure, more than likely.

It should be pointed out that we don't know how often this happened. More than likely, Bragg did a lot of reporting himself. Hell, I sat beside the guy in a hot, old-school wooden courtroom in Hattiesburg, MS for several days back in 1998. I know he did some serious reporting there.

We TV hacks may be just as bad. I can think of a number of times I have taken information from stringers, freelancers, associate producers, and news wires and plopped down on a news scene. Within minutes I'd be reporting the story and information others had collected. I don't mention in my reports that I'm reporting information collected by a variety of news sources. Is that dishonest? If it is, then I'm dishonest. If it is not, then Bragg is just like the rest of us and shouldn't be punished.

So, I don't know how to to feel about all this. I know I would like to see Jayson Blair work in a warehouse for the rest of his life. I know I would like to see Stephen Glass serve as Jayson Blair's butler. As for my hero, I feel like I'd like to hear more. Maybe some of my buddies in the newspaper industry can help me out with this one.

(And I guess, in this age of full disclosure I should point out... much of the information containted in this story comes from the reporting of Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post. The picture is courtesy of Random House. Blog service courtesy of Blogger. I typed this on a computer owned by a pretty big media conglomerate. I'm wearing a cheap, old suit from JC Penny. There.)

Sunday, May 25, 2003


The invites (not that you need one) will hit e-mail boxes in the next couple of days.

But...for a sneak peek...click right here, bucko

Friday, May 23, 2003

Hey, bud...check this one out

The guy was only at my house this morning to reappraise my home. So, I don't know why I felt the need to whip out my johnson and sling it over the arm of the couch.

After all, this guy didn't give a damn how manly I was. He'd even forgotten his ultra-high-tech-outdoor-measuring tape. So, he was going to be forced to guesstimate the length of my manhood anyway.

Thing is, I don't get up early in the mornings. I awake just in time to wash my stank ass and get to work. But since he was to arrive at 8:30, I got up, showered, and had nothing better to do when he arrived than flip on the TV. Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 was crooning some song about not be crazy, but perhaps a little impaired. I was just in the middle of thinking, "Boy, that Rob Thomas is dreamy" when I looked up and saw the appraisal guy was taking notes. Unzip the zipper, pull out Old Doc Swenson, and make sure it gets within his line of sight.

No man should get caught watching Rob Thomas sing to a bunch of fawning 16 year old girls on the Today Show. I nearly broke three fingers trying to get the channel changed to ESPN. I went through my current Rolodex of sports knowledge.

lebronclevelandcavssomegolfernamedanikamaynotmakethecut... canhespotmyjohnsonfromacrosstheroomireallydon'tmasturbatetorobthomas...

Appraisal guy didn't take much note of Sports Center or my swinging trouser mouse. He did say he had to go to a hardware store before he could finish the job. I was going to offer, "If you only need to measure 16 inches at a time, you're certainly welcome to use this." However, the guy was already out the door.

I wonder if he heard me switch back to the Today Show in time to get a good a look at Al Roker's new tight ass.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Ju-Ju Bee-Feces

A positive man's positive outlook can positively nosedive for no particular reason. I've always found that to be a perfectly sadistic feature of optimism.

Despite a weekend of celebration of bright futures of recent accomplishments, the bad ju-ju of which I often write has returned on the back of a niggling little cold front. Things--as things go--just ain't right.

There's little need to present the laundry list of symptoms. Rest assured, the ju-ju has taken a turn toward Cape Horn...or perhaps just Cape Hatteras (I'd recognize the Cape of Good Hope, but that would be a little ironic in the current situation).

There remains much to do before the fabled Bradoween--3D. The list, again, ain't worth the time spent to type it. However, following the path of the ju-ju is motivation. I've twice asked it to be a leader not a follower, but it seems to have selective auditory disfunction.

Tonight, I'm going to hide from th ju-ju. The wife is making herself better. The dog is protecting the front door. Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003


My escape from life's poorer characteristics comes in two colors, four suits, 52 cards. When I just can't stand to listen to another fucking word in the real world, I check-raise some poor schmuck on a straight draw and take his chips. It's a virtual world where nobody gets hurt and only egos suffer.

My buddy of fast-driving, car-slipping, sober-poker-playing-prowess intoduced me to a book this weekend. Positively Fifth Street contains true crime, women, and gambling in its first 50 pages. Add booze, music, and irresponsibility and you have my passions on paper.

The book inspired me back to my escape. A dark, upstairs room in front of a virtual green felt table. One of the things I do here between hands is surf internet news sites. Keeps me from getting bored and playing too many hands. That's when I ran across this:

At least two more NY TIMES reporters are being investigated for possible journalistic irregularities, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned... MORE... New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Rick Bragg said to be under the microscope from rival WASHINGTON POST, which is looking in to every aspect of his work, sources reveal...

If you've not yet heard, the first NY Times fuckchop, Jayson Blair, got busted for rampant plagarism and laziness. Rather than going out and reporting some of the biggest stories in the country, he stayed home, wrote some prose based on a freelance photographer's snaps, and cribbed quotes from other news outlets. What's makes it even worse is he was working for the Times as a 27 year old lucky SOB. The way I see it, if you cheat your way to the top, stop cheating and make good.

But now the wolves taste blood. On the line now, the reputation of a Pulitzer Prize-winning Southern boy made good named Rick Bragg. And sitting right there on the line next to him is my last shred of belief in the power of hero-worship.

A few years ago I sat next to Bragg at a Ku Klux Klan trial. For three days I didn't know who he was. A print reporter in full star-struckedness clued me in. I became similarly ga-ga. Later, I read his book All Over But the Shoutin' and decided Bragg was my hero. I wrote him and told him so...in so many words. It was the first and last time I've done such a thing. He wrote me back an encouraging note which I still have in this very room.

You have to read his work to appreciate why he is so good. I won't bother trying to explain. But he is my only celebrity hero, and one of just a few real heroes I maintain.

Which is why I will take this opportunity to remind everyone that while I read Drudge religously (as way of keeping up with news), Drudge is wrong about 40% of the time. Further, if the Post is investigating Bragg and Bragg hasn't done anything wrong, it goes a long way toward proving a media elite bias against people who've come up from the dirt and earned an opportunity to soil the elite's Brooks Brothers duds. The elite have a hard time believing the son of a poor Southern drunk could write so well and connect with real people on a level the elite could never understand.

However, if Rick Bragg has earned my trust and respect with lies, I hope he goes down in the same hellfire as Jayson Blair.

That sounds horrible. It sounds so horrible because I want so badly for it not to be true.

I love cards. But I respect Rick Bragg.

Weigh the two and you'll understand why I'm writing this instead of paying attention to the card game in the other window on this computer screen.

Respect will be pocket aces every day of the week. Even that day I can't stand to hear another fucking word.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Brief hiatus

Sorry it's been so long. Life is very busy. Updates soon on my life and 100 sex offenders.

Until then, have fun looking at the glass-filled cheese below.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Rival Crockpot Lid Explosion

Cheese bomb

One of two things is happening. Either terrorists have infiltrated the kitchen appliance industry or Rival (a big crock-pot maker) just makes a dangerous product.

Last night I was making rotel dip for some guests. About two hours in the cooking, the glass lid on the crock-pot just exploded. Hundreds of pieces of glass--big and small--were all over my kitchen. I'm too brain dead to tell the whole story right now. Here are some pictures of the aftermath.

One of two things will come out of this. Either Rival gives me a new crock-pot or you'll watch RER become a part-time campaign against Rival and its ownership.

Update: Rival, indeed, provided me with a new crockpot. It has survived many a cooking session without explosion.

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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
All poker stories, travelogues, food writing, parenting and marriage advice, crime stories, and other writing should be taken with a grain of salt. It is also all protected under a Creative Commons license