Come and See Me Actually Being Me

If ANY of you still have this blog on your blogrolls or feeds, and care what I have to say, I’m now writing at my own self-titled site, sans pseudonym.  I haven’t done any administrative stuff there, but I have put up the first post.

Please add the new site to your blogrolls, feeds, etc.

Thanks,

Tom Landers (Slartibartfast)

My Tips For The Obama’s Gulf Coast Vacation

014-060414 Dear First family:

You have taken a beating lately about the number of vacations you have taken and your choices of holiday destinations.  It has come to my attention that you are planning a short trip to the gulf coast, fulfilling a promise made earlier in the year.  A most excellent choice.  Being a lifelong visitor to the northwest Florida and Alabama coasts, if I may, I’d like to suggest a few pointers to help you have a good time and do a little salt-of-the-earth PR fence mending at the same time.

1. DO NOT go to Seaside, The Beaches of South Walton, or even Destin.  We’re trying to project an image here.  You COULD do Grand Isle (they have suffered the most) or Gulf Shores (FloraBama!), but I would suggest the perfect compromise: Fort Walton Beach.  It’s a good combination of classy and tacky, and is a military town to boot!

2. You could get a nice condo on the island, but I’d suggest the Four Points Sheraton .  You can’t miss the place, it’s the first one you see after you cross the Brooks Bridge.  The Holiday Inn is nice, too.  Much better than the old Playground Motel in town (don’t ask me how I know).

3. Make sure to walk across the street to Fudpuckers (the original).   Order a Fudburger and Bud (let’s skip the Heinies and Blue Moons this time), and I’d suggest  an Ultimate Fish Pucker for Michelle.  There is a wonderful menu for the kids as well.  Make sure to grab a "You ain’t been pucked till you’ve been Fudpucked!" T-shirt for Malia.  Her classmates at Sidwell Friends will love it!

4.  You probably don’t own any plastic flip-flops or inflatable dolphins, but there is a Wings souvenir shop on just about every corner.  If you MUST go high-rent, try Alvin’s Island.

5. Visit the Gulfarium to see what’s left of the gulf sea life.  It really is a fascinating place.

6.  While Michelle and the girls are gathering sea shells and tar balls, give a visit to the Green Frog.  (wait – I’ll bet Bill Clinton’s already told you about that one).

7. Instead of chartering a boat, throw a line off the Okaloosa Island Pier.  Take Rahm and bring a case of Bud, because the fishing stinks this time of year there.  Strike up a conversation with the little old Vietnamese ladies with the live bait.  They could teach you a thing or two about patience.

8. After a long day drinking beer at the beach and throwing down a few more with your dinner at Pandora’s, make a 2am run to Waffle House.  Knowing what "scattered, smothered, and covered" means is worth 2 points in the polls.  Actually eating it is worth 3.

9. You’ll learn this pretty quickly, but you have to walk Emerald Coast sand barefoot.  The sand is far more fine and powdery than anywhere else, especially Martha’s Vineyard.  Also, you will be getting it out of your limo, Air Force One, and various body parts for months to come.  Fort Walton Beach sand is the gift that keeps on giving.

10. Sasha absolutely, positively MUST get a henna tattoo. 

The End Of The First Quarter

If the Nashville Flood is a football game, the game is not over, it is not even halftime.  We have reached the end of the first quarter.

Our opponent has thrown everything it has at us – bombs, blitzes, screens trick plays – scoring a few times, but we have taken the worst and given as good as we’ve gotten.

The game has settled down, and now that the game plans have been used up, it is now a test of execution and will.

This is when we must be careful.

Now our enemy is not nature, but the voices of divisiveness.  They are not hard to find at all; they have been with us since the beginning.  Wormtongues whispering in our ear, saying they hate when people turn against one another, yet always bring up issues they feel will do just that.  “I’m just being realistic”, they say.

They begrudgingly compliment us on our unprecedented (as the Red Cross has called it) local response, yet they misread it as an acting out of grief and insist that it will fade in a few days. 

Yes, we feel grief, the weight is strong on our shoulders.  It came out in full force during Sunday Services this past week.

But grief is not what drives us. Anyone who has been at a neighborhood cleanup knows this.  From the street, one could hear the unlikely sound of laughter or singing as the labor continued.

We are not stoic internalizers here.  We have a huge percentage of emoters.  We are expressing – we cannot help ourselves.

We are expressing love for our God, for our neighbor, for our friends and family, for our city. 

It is love that brings forth tears, that springs us into action, that makes us push on through sore shoulders and tired feet.  It is love that makes us pass out sandwiches and water and give hugs and make pledges of aid.

If one visits a cleanup site, it is there to see with one’s own waking eyes – love.

We must gather our strength and carry this spirit forward.  There is much of the game left to be played.  We can see the road to victory now, but it is far from within our grasp.

There will come a day when Nashvillians will gather to watch the Titans play football; sporting events are now the only logistical way to gather the town in a major southern city.  And sometime during a break in the game, some of the heroes of the Nashville flood will be introduced, because the Titans organization always does these sort of things. Many of the Hero Stories will surface in the coming weeks.  There are, of course, too many heroes to fit on the field, but Nashvillians understand symbolism, if anything.

And on that day, in that moment, there will arise such a cheer, such a din and cry of pride and solidarity, that the cars in the parking lot will tremble.  At that moment, even the Cumberland herself will give up a wake as if in respectful salute.

And children playing in Riverfront Park on the opposite bank will see the wake, yet they will not run in terror, but will instead rush to let the River’s splashes gently kiss their cheeks, as they laugh in delight.

And then they will know, we will all know, that we have witnessed the founding of The City That Love Built.

Just So Proud To Be Here

Minie_pearl_hat To our visitors from the national media,

Sorry about the mess, we just haven’t had time to tidy up yet. 

Unfortunately, while your eyes were somewhat understandably turned elsewhere, we had a bit of a “situation” here in Nashville.  Large swaths of our city and surrounding areas were flooded after unprecedented rainfall.  People were trapped in their homes, or in need of rescue, had their homes damaged or destroyed altogether.  There was much loss of life, health, and property.  Schools, businesses, even beloved landmarks were affected.

At one time, when water was impossibly flowing into the first floor of my own house, and the rain just would not stop falling, and sirens were going past my house on the way to Bellevue almost every 30 seconds, knowing I had friends who were either being evacuated or were trapped,  it almost became too much.

And it’s not over yet.

As a child, I played in many of the creeks and rivers which suddenly raged and caused so much damage.  I have lived and worked and played and worshipped and shopped and cheered in all of the places your cameras have shown underwater.  It is heartbreaking.

I have many friends and coworkers who have lost everything.  But even if I didn’t personally know so many victims of this disaster, its impact would still be enormous.  Bordeaux to Bellevue, Antioch to Bell’s Bend, Hermitage to Brentwood, Franklin to Ashland City to Murfreesboro – these are not just places where strangers live.  This is home.

These are not strangers, they are Family.

We will take care of our family.  Long after your cameras are gone, we will not rest until our neighbors are healthy and whole.  Come back in a few months or beyond, you’ll see.

Yes, in less trying times, we fuss and we fight and roll our eyes at each other.  But our disagreements end at the water’s edge, as it were.  Our hipsters and bumpkins alike have a fierce attachment to this place. And both can lay claim to its rich tradition and history.  We are like Minnie Pearl – country and bodacious and silly, sometimes embarrassingly so.  And we are also like her creator, Sarah Cannon – patrician, proper, educated,well mannered – yet always “in on the joke”.

Most of us overflowed with ecstasy and pride when the Music City Miracle happened (and we were ALL there, don’t you know?), and we wept and mourned last 4th of July when Steve McNair was killed.  I dare you – go to any part of Nashville, rich, poor or in between – and ask about these events, and you will find the reaction is exactly the same, be it in north Nashville or Brentwood.  Somehow, the Titans transcend all of the barriers others might try to put between us.  That may seem weird to you, but it makes perfect sense to us.

Before you take your cameras and move on to your Next Big Thing, take a few minutes to talk to the people who live here.  There is a spirit to this place – I’ve lived here all of my 45 years and I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it.  You can see it in the celebrities and sports stars who move to town, many times supposedly on a temporary basis until they can move on to bigger and better things on the coasts.  Yet, they find themselves lingering here.  And they stay.  “It’s a good place to raise a family”, they might say, but there’s something more.  Perhaps even they cannot put into words the spirit of this place.

It’s the spirit that compels hundreds to gather at a moment’s notice to sandbag one of the few remaining riverside communities not yet flooded, saving it in the process.

It’s the spirit that has people in Bordeaux taking a flash collection for people in Bellevue, and vice-versa.

It’s the spirit that asks “what can I do?”, then does whatever is needed without hesitation.

It’s the spirit that causes emergency workers to carry on beyond the point of exhaustion.

It’s the spirit that causes our usually silly local media to become an extremely valuable information lifeline for hours upon hours straight.

It’s funny, normally we natives express our coolness by showing our ambivalence to the Grand Ole Opry.  I’ll be honest – I was born here, and I’ve never been to an Opry performance.  Yet, sometimes when I travel and I’m missing home on weekends, I tune into WSM and listen.  It is at these times I realize how much I love the city of my birth.  Hearing that the Opry House was flooded affected me in ways I cannot explain.

My family will find somewhere and someone to help this week.  Then, uncharacteristically, this weekend I will listen to the Opry, if it airs.  I need to hear it.  It will serve as both a salve and a reassurance, as an expression of grief and of hope. 

Through the Opry, that Mother of Churches, we will thank God for his provision, mourn those who were lost, and dedicate ourselves to finishing the job of helping our neighbors.  Mostly, we will declare to the world that we are still here, and it’s going to take more than a little water to stop us from singing.

Like Minnie Pearl, I’m just so proud to be here.

Thoughts About Ugly Betty Episode 4.15

So much could have gone wrong with last night’s episode of Ugly Betty, 4.15 – Fire And Nice.  If I am guessing right (based on the set photos I’ve seen that match this episode), it was filmed months ago, before anyone knew the show was being cancelled (at least out here in fan-land).  It was a set-up episode, so it could have very easily had a middling plot the way many movies which are the 2nd in a trilogy become.

But, this episode was not a mess. It worked very well.  This may have been the first episode in a LONG time where almost every character had well written lines and was likable,

The night definitely belonged to Vanessa Williams and Mark Indelicato, though.  Both of them went out of his/her way to keep us on our toes.

Twice, a scene was set up where it looked like Justin was coming out.  These scenes depended greatly on Michael Urie, whose understanding and confusion as Marc the Mentor was perfect.  Justin did not come out – instead he confessed that he thought he started the fire, because he was smoking to impress someone named Lily.

They also managed to fit in a video of Justin lip-syncing Lady GaGa’s Bad Romance, which was hilarious.

Wilhelmina played against type as well – she went out of her way to impress old boyfriend and “regular guy” Don.  Seeing Vanessa Williams dressed down (at least for Wilhelmina) was a treat.  There was a very funny scene where she and Don ran into Betty and the world’s most annoying fireman, and Don suggested they eat together.  Betty took full advantage.

I’m already tired of Amanda and Daniel and their friends with benefits arrangement.  It would appear that Amanda is, too, because by the end of the episode, she had honed in on Claire’s long-lost son Tyler.  This of course gets to Daniel in the worst way.

Speaking of Claire’s two sons, Daniel finds out Tyler is his (half) brother – not only that, but progeny of the much hated Cal Hartley.  I thought Eric Mabius played this just right, between anger and bewilderment. 

I can’t decide if Tyler’s going to end up a bad guy.  Knowing the writers, it’s entirely possible. 

I love, Love, LOVED Bobby’s parents.  When Hilda found out they thought she was a slut and went off, they went off right back.

Big Spoiler after jump

Read the rest of this entry »

Is Tennessee’s Most Famous Weird Law An Urban Legend?

Pick up any “weird law” book, or navigate to any site listing “weird laws”, and you’ll find some variation of the following about Tennessee:

It is unlawful in Tennessee to shoot game animals from a moving vehicle. Except whales.

My kids absolutely love this strange fact about landlocked Tennessee.  So do I.

Unfortunately, I’m wondering if it isn’t true.  Or some weird extrapolation.  I can’t find the whale exception ANYWHERE in Tennessee Code Annotated. (Granted, I haven’t read every word – who could? – but no reasonable search turns up anything remotely resembling whales).   Here is the base law, TCA 70-4-109:

70-4-109. Hunting from aircraft, watercraft or motor vehicles unlawful — Penalty — Exception for persons confined to wheelchairs. —

(a)  It is unlawful to chase, hunt, or kill any wild birds, wild animals or wild fowl in the state of Tennessee from any craft propelled by electric, gasoline, steam or sail power, or airplane or hydroplane or from any automobile or motor vehicle, unless otherwise provided by law, rule and regulation or by proclamation; provided, that under no circumstance shall this subsection (a) be construed as authorizing the legalization of hunting from an automobile or motor vehicle while under power.

(b)  Notwithstanding subsection (a), any person totally and permanently confined to a wheelchair as certified by appropriate documentation to the executive director may hunt or kill any wildlife from a stationary automobile or motor vehicle during the lawful hunting seasons; provided, that it is unlawful for such person to shoot directly across or over any road, path or other right-of-way; and provided further, that any such persons shall be accompanied by another person who is not so confined at all times when hunting, and that such person shall retrieve all game taken in such hunt.

(c)  A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

[Acts 1951, ch. 115, § 36 (Williams, § 5178.65); 1979, ch. 237, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 51-416; Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 113; 2005, ch. 109, § 1.]

 

Now, I figured the “unless otherwise provided by law” clause to mean that there was an actual exception for whales somewhere in TCA.  There is an interesting section about “nongame mammals” in the definitions in 70-8-103, but that deals with species protection, not shootin’ whales.

A more likely scenario is that whales don’t fall under the definitions of “wild birds, wild animals or wild fowl” in Tennessee law, but that’s no fun.  I was hoping for an actual, codified exclusion for whales.

Are there any lawyers, law students, Tennessee judges, or lawmakers who can clarify this for me?  Is one of the most endearing facts about my home state not a fact at all?

(BTW, in researching this, I found the most wonderful document that puts together all the laws concerning animals in TN, from the University of Tennessee colleges of Law and Veterinary Medicine .  Check it out, although it’s a little dry.  Still, you can learn the most wonderful and obscure things looking at it).

To The Readers Of Ugly Betty News

Regular Shoot The Moose readers (both of you), bear with me a minute.

For those of you who got here by searching for Ugly Betty News, I owe you an explanation for that site’s sudden disappearance, and I wish I had a better venue from which to provide it.  But, it is what is it.

So, here is what happened.  On February 16, I was informed by the company for which I wrote Ugly Betty News that they were severing my contract, per the terms.  I found out later that the company had nixed the entire Entertainment department, which was sizable.  We were locked out of our blogs, so there was no chance of properly saying goodbye.  I was able to post a couple of tweets about it, so SOME of you might have gotten word what happened.  I wanted to send out a mass email to the biggest regular commenters at the site, but unfortunately, most of you posted with bogus email addresses (as you probably should).

The next day, the UBN domain no longer pointed to UBN, but to the replacement site for all the Entertainment channel blogs.

And that was that. 

It sounds so clichéd.  The last post I made at UBN was a revisiting of the possibility of Liza Minnelli appearing on Ugly Betty (as we now know, that isn’t going to happen).  Had I known that it would be my last post, I would have said something more profound.  I would have said goodbye.

This is how ghosts must feel.

Ironically, the cancellation of Ugly Betty had been quite good for Ugly Betty News, business-wise, up until our own “cancellation”.  The readership there spiked to record levels on  the day of the show’s cancellation announcement, and it didn’t decline much after that.

We – you and I – did an amazing thing.  We built an informative fan/news site which featured intelligent discussion minus the mean-spirited gossip.  It was a long shot from the beginning. I worked my butt off, and you guys kept coming back and bringing your wonderful thoughts to the comments.  We were part of a larger Ugly Betty community, which WE helped will into being (notwithstanding the ship wars, but even that was done with the context of a greater Ugly Betty community.)

We were seen as a conduit between fans and the show.  Ironically,although the many in the cast read UBN,  I NEVER had any contact with the producers, until right before UBN got axed, and I’ll be doggoned if I didn’t give Mr. Horta my b5Media email address, which is no longer valid. Was he going to invite me to the wrap party, or issue a cease and desist?  We’ll never know :)

After all those years of work, once I got the sad notice, I decided to check and see just what I (we) had done.  I hadn’t checked in many months, but typing in the phrase “Ugly Betty spoiler” on Google returned Ugly Betty News as the number one result (with many more links in the top 15).  Beating out EOnline.  Beating TVGuide.  Beating Entertainment Weekly.  Even beating Wiki-freaking-Pedia, who is always number one on every search for anything.  Many other search terms revealed the same result.  All this with NO help from the network.

(This is where I get to say: ABC, your media relations with bloggers SUCKS, more than any other network.  You seriously need to revisit your asset access policy.  We had the number one Ugly Betty site in the world, we proved our professionalism time and again, and you refused, to the end, to treat us like “media”.  It boggles the mind.  Your loss.  There, that feels better, although I guess blogging for ABC is now out of the question :) ).

So, I’ll be fine.  If I choose to seriously blog again, I know how to do it now, thanks to the wonderful people (I’m looking at you, Arieanna) who gave me a chance and taught me the ropes.  Who knows where I could go?  Politics, parenting, cooking, travel, maybe even entertainment again.

Regardless, I am almost over my period of mourning, so watch out, world.

So, to the faithful readers of Ugly Betty News I say thank you for all your wonderful contributions and readership.  As the show itself winds down, we have to go through another long, sad goodbye.  But, I’m glad we get to have that.  I am sorry that UBN just disappeared on you.  Had I had any control over the situation, it would have been done differently.

I will miss you, dear readers and commenters, most of all.  But, we will meet again, somewhere, somewhen.

Sincerely,

Tom Landers

Writer – Ugly Betty News

(PS, if you want to hang out here, I intend on ramping up the post frequency at Shoot The Moose again.  Slartibartfast IS Tom; I am who I am, pseudonym or not.  Many of you, I think,  will be surprised at my personal life.  I don’t fit the mold of the typical Ugly Betty blogger.  BUT, you’ll get to meet my family, find out about life in Nashville, and get some good recipes.  I WILL be posting about Ugly Betty as well – reviews, not recaps – since I no longer have contractual restraints.   Because, regardless of the business side of things, UBN was always a labor of love.)

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