Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mike Leach's 'Swing Your Sword' appears on best-sellers list

It’s Sunday, so that means that it’s time for my weekly review of this week’s Publishers Weekly Best-Seller List. According to the list, we’ve got one new book at the top of the four major best-seller lists this week.

"The Confession: A Novel" by John Grisham replaced "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin as the No. 1 book on the mass market paperback best-sellers list.

"A Dance With Dragons" by George R.R. Martin retained its spot atop the hardcover fiction best-sellers list.

"A Stolen Life" by Jaycee Dugard kept its No. 1 spot on the hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list.

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett retained the top spot on the trade paperbacks best-sellers list.

There are five books on this week’s hardcover fiction best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They (along with their place on the list) include "Portrait of a Spy" by Daniel Silva (2), "Happy Birthday: A Novel" by Danielle Steel (3), "Split Second" by Catherine Coulter (4), "Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Dominion" by Eric Van Lustbader (9) and "Burnt Mountain" by Anne Rivers Siddons (12).

There are three books on this week’s hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They include "Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon" by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner (13), "20 Years Younger: Look Younger, Feel Younger, Be Younger!" by Bob Greene (14) and "Swing Your Sword: Leading the Charge in Football and Life" by Mike Leach (15).

There are three books on this week’s mass market paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on that list last week. They include "The Confession: A Novel" by John Grisham (1) and "Spider Bones" by Kathy Reichs (12).

There is just one book on this week’s trade paperbacks list that wasn’t on the list last week - "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein, which came in at No. 15 on the list.

As a reminder, I’m posting these lists each Sunday because they, as a whole, represent a great, contemporary recommended reading list. These lists are initially released each week on Thursday, and if you’re interested in reading them then, visit Publishers Weekly’s Web site at www.publishersweekly.com. Below you’ll find all four of this week’s best-seller lists.

HARDCOVER FICTION
1. "A Dance With Dragons" by George R.R. Martin
2. "Portrait of a Spy" by Daniel Silva
3. "Happy Birthday: A Novel" by Danielle Steel
4. "Split Second" by Catherine Coulter
5. "Now You See Her" by James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge
6. "Smokin' Seventeen" by Janet Evanovich
7. "Then Came You" by Jennifer Weiner
8. "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett
9. "Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Dominion" by Eric Van Lustbader
10. "Against All Enemies" by Tom Clancy and Peter Telep
11. "One Summer" by David Baldacci
12. "Burnt Mountain" by Anne Rivers Siddons
13. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson
14. "Maine" by J. Courtney Sullivan
15. "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "A Stolen Life" by Jaycee Dugard
2. "Go the F--k to Sleep" by Adam Mansbach and Illustrations by Ricardo Cortes
3. "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand
4. "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson
5. "The 17 Day Diet: A Doctor's Plan Design for Rapid Results" by Dr. Mike Moreno
6. "Bossypants" by Tina Fey
7. "The Greater Journey" by David McCullough
8. "The Dukan Diet" by Pierre Dukan
9. "Of Thee I Zing" by Laura Ingraham with Raymond Arroyo
10. "SEAL Team Six" by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin
11. "The 4-Hour Body" by Timothy Ferriss
12. "Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me" by Chelsea's Family, Friends & Other Victims
13. "Reckless Endangerment" by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner
14. "20 Years Younger: Look Younger, Feel Younger, Be Younger!" by Bob Greene
15. "Swing Your Sword: Leading the Charge in Football and Life" by Mike Leach

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "The Confession: A Novel" by John Grisham
2. "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin
3. "A Clash of Kings" by George R.R. Martin
4. "Hell's Corner" by David Baldacci
5. "Sizzling Sixteen" by Janet Evanovich
6. "A Storm of Swords" by George R.R. Martin
7. "Whiplash" by Catherine Coulter
8. "A Feast for Crows" by George R.R. Martin
9. "Family Ties: A Novel" by Danielle Steel
10. "The Rembrandt Affair" by Daniel Silva
11. "Tough Customer: A Novel" by Sandra Brown
12. "Spider Bones" by Kathy Reichs
13. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson
14. "Betrayal" by Fern Michaels
15. "Worst Case" by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett
2. "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo, Sonja Burpo, Colton Burpo and Lynn Vincent
3. "Water for Elephants: A Novel" by Sara Gruen
4. "Room" by Emma Donoghue
5. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot
6. "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay
7. "One Day" by David Nicholls
8. "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell
9. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese
10. "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls
11. "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin
12. "The Original Argument" by Glenn Beck
13. "The Postcard Killers" by James Patterson & Liza Marklund
14. "Empire of the Summer Moon" by S.C. Gwynne
15. "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein

In the end, let me know if you’ve had a chance to read any of these books. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Deal 2.0's 'Summer Reads: Top Titles for Your Progressive Book List'

My friend, Kyle Crider of Helena, posted an interesting link on Facebook the other day, and I’m passing it along to you tonight for your reading pleasure.

The link, found below, will take you to an interesting recommended reading list called “Summer Reads: Top Titles for Your Progressive Book List.” The list was compiled by “fellows, staffers and friends” of the Roosevelt Institue “recommend for progressive summer reading.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the Roosevelt Institute, it’s a non-profit organization “devoted to carrying forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt by developing progressive ideas and bold leadership in the service of restoring America’s health and security.”

Books that made this summer’s recommended reading list include the following titles:

1. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
2. The Politicos by Mathew Josephson
3. Rise and Decline of Nations by Mancur Olson
4. Nothing to Fear by Adam Cohen
5. Understanding Modern Money by L. Randal Wray
6. Democratic Promise: The Populist Movement in America by Lawrence Goodwyn
7. The Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems by our own Tom Ferguson
8. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
9. Winner Take All Politics by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
10. Oligarchy by Jeffrey Winter
11. The Means of Reproduction by Michelle Goldberg
12. Common Sense by Thomas Paine
13. Looking South: Race, Gender, and the Transformation of Labor from Reconstruction to Globalization by Mary Frederickson

For more information about these books as well as the contributors to this list, visit http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/07/26/summer-reads-top-titles-for-your-progressive-book-list-52519/. The web site, New Deal 2.0, is a collaborative blog that focuses on progressive economics.

In the end, how many of these books have you had a chance to read? Which did you like or dislike? Which would you recommend and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Which book will win this year's World Fantasy Award for Best Novel?

The nominees for this year’s slate of World Fantasy Awards were announced yesterday, including the finalists for Best Novel. The winners will be announced at this year’s World Fantasy Convention on Oct. 27-30 in San Diego, Calif.

The nominees for Best Novel include the following books:
- Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
- The Silent Land by Graham Joyce
- Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
- Redemption In Indigo by Karen Lord
- Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

This year’s slate of awards also includes two other “book” categories – Best Anthology and Best Collection.

The nominees for Best Anthology include:
- The Way of the Wizard, edited by John Joseph Adams
- My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, edited by Kate Bernheimer
- Haunted Legends, edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas
- Stories: All New Tales, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio
- Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, edited by S.T. Joshi
- Swords & Dark Magic, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders

The nominees for Best Collection include:
- What I Didn’t See and Other Stories by Karen Joy Fowler
- The Ammonite Violin & Others by Caitlin R. Kieman
- Holiday by M. Rickert
- Sourdough and Other Stories by Angela Slatter
- The Third Bear by Jeff VanderMeer

The finalists for Best Novella, Best Short Fiction, Best Artist as well as for Special Award – Professional and Non-Professional were also announced yesterday. For more information about the nominees in those categories, visit http://www.locusmag.com/News/2011/07/world-fantasy-nominees-and-lifetime-achievement-winners/.

For those of you unfamiliar with the World Fantasy Awards, they are given annually for outstanding achievement in the field of fantasy. Along with the Hugo Awards and Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Awards are generally considered among the most prestigious awards in the fantasy and science fiction genres.

As you might have imagined a number of outstanding novels have won World Fantasy Awards over the years. What follows is a complete list of the all-time winners in the Best Novel category:

1975 – The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
1976 – Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson
1977 – Doctor Rat by William Kotzwinkle
1978 – Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber
1979 – Gloriana by Michael Moorcock
1980 – Watchtower by Elizabeth A. Lynn
1981 – The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe
1982 – Little, Big by John Crowley
1983 – Nifft the Lean by Michael Shea
1984 – The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford
1985 – Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock and Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart
1986 – Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
1987 – Perfume by Patrick Susking
1988 – Replay by Ken Grimwood
1989 – Koko by Peter Straub
1990 – Lyonesse: Madouc by Jack Vance
1991 – Only Begotten Daughter by James Morrow and Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner
1992 – Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon
1993 – Last Call by Tim Powers
1994 – Glimpses by Lewis Shiner
1995 – Towing Jehovah by James Morrow
1996 – The Prestige by Christopher Priest
1997 – Godmother Night by Rachel Pollack
1998 – The Physiognomy by Jeffrey Ford
1999 – The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdich
2000 – Thraxas by Martin Scott
2001 – Declare by Tim Powers and Galveston by Sean Stewart
2002 – The Other Wind by Ursula K. Le Guin
2003 – The Facts of Life by Graham Joyce and Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip
2004 – Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
2005 – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
2006 – Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
2007 – Soldier of Sidon by Gene Wolfe
2008 – Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
2009 – The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
2010 – “The City & the City” by China Mieville

In the end, how many of the books mentioned above have you had a chance to read? Which did you like or dislike? Which would you recommend and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Evergreen's Jeff Daniels enters Vermont on Appalachian Trail


Jeff Daniels of Evergreen drew 100 miles closer to his goal of “thru-hiking” the world famous Appalachian Trail during the past week as he crossed from Massachusetts into Vermont.

In a phone interview with The Courant Tuesday afternoon from the Spruce Peak Shelter, about three miles from Manchester Center, Vt., Daniels, age 53, reported that he’d hiked a total of 1,640-1/2 miles of the trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. On Tuesday of last week, Daniels had hiked 1,540 miles of the trail, which is commonly called the “AT.”

Daniels began his trip on March 13 in Springer Mountain, Ga. and plans to finish the 2,181-mile hike in mid-September at the trail’s end in Katahdin, Maine.

The Appalachian Trail is arguably the most famous hiking trail in the world. The trail passes through 14 states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

During the past week, Daniels crossed into Vermont, where about 100 miles of the trail runs concurrently with Vermont’s famous Long Trail. He also logged a trip to the top of Mt. Greylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts, earlier this week. This week also took him from the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts to the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Daniels has passed through a variety of weather conditions during the past week, he said.

“It was hot the first of last week,” Daniels said. “Into the nineties a few times. Then there were a couple of cool nights, where it got down into the fifties. It got into the low seventies yesterday (Monday) and it got into the low eighties today (Tuesday).

“Several days ago, I had to hike four or five miles in a total downpour, and I’ve encountered a lot of water along the trail this week. My gear got soaked, but I eventually got most of it dried out. My feet, socks and boots were the main thing.”

Daniels is also soaking in the scenery and noting the many differences between the New England forests and the woods of Alabama.

“The trees are just beautiful,” he said. “I’ve seen balsam furs as well as a forest of predominately large cherry trees, 20 to 30 inches in diameter.”

He’s also keeping his eyes open for animals that you don’t typically see in Alabama.

“I’m keeping my eyes open for moose,” he said. “I’ve seen tracks and other signs of them on the trail, so I know they’re around. I’m also trying to spot a porcupine. We know they’re around because they’re bad about chewing the wood that the trail shelters are built out of.”

During the coming week, he expects to spend some time in Manchester Center, where he and a few fellow hikers plan to take in a movie, probably the new Harry Potter film, he said. He also plans to visit a hostel, where he can get a “fairly inexpensive” shower and meal. Later, he plans to pass through Killington, Vt. and eventually make his way into New Hampshire.

(Daniels is keeping an online journal of his trip, and it can be read at www.trailjournals.com/moondoggie. Also, look for continuing updates about Daniels’ trip in future editions of The Courant.”)

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for July 28, 2011


NINE YEARS AGO
JULY 25, 2002

“Sparta Booster Club: There will be a meeting of the Sparta Booster Club Monday, July 29, at 5:30 p.m. in the school library. All interested persons are urged to attend.”

24 YEARS AGO
JULY 23, 1987

“LYEFFION QB’S MEET: There will be a meeting of the Lyeffion Quarterback Club Thursday night, July 30, at 7:30 p.m. at the school. The Tiny Mite and Pee Wee football program will be discussed. Any boys age 8 to 13 in the county interested in playing should contact Dan Byrd. Practice will begin Aug. 3.”

“Sergeant Major Frank Jones caught this 26-pound King Salmon out of Sheep Creek, 82 miles north of Anchorage, Alaska.”

“PEE WEE & TINY MITE SIGNUP: Sign-up dates for Pee Wee and Termite Football players at Conecuh County High School has been set for Aug. 1 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at the school. If you are playing for the first time, you need to bring your birth certificate.”

“Army Sergeant Major Frank Jones caught this King Salmon, which weighed 48 pounds, out of Sheep Creek, 82 miles north of Anchorage, Alaska. He said: ‘Pop Jones and Kenneth Jones, eat your hearts out.’”

“Frank Jones Jr., son of Sergeant Major Frank Jones, caught this 26-pound King Salmon out of Sheep Creek, 82 miles north of Anchorage, Alaska.”

“Beano Baker’s SPORTSBEAT: THE ALABAMA CONNECTION… It’s been somewhat of a down year for major league ballplayers with ties to Alabama, the state that produced Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams and Dixie Walker.”

39 YEARS AGO
JULY 27, 1972

“These Dodgers, managed by the Davis brothers, won it all in the National loop of the Evergreen Jr. League this summer. After wrapping up the championship in a playoff with the Yankees, they downed the All Stars. Shown are Phil Harold, Doug McCraney, Gary Weaver (bat boy), John Bolton, Tommy Shehan and Johnny Ralls; Manager Matthew Davis, Bryan Bell, Robert Phillips, Turner Murphy, Wesley Stuckey, Tracey Weaver, Jimmy Lambert, Tommy Hutcheson and Assistant Manager Clayton Davis.”

“These young men were named to the All Star team in the American League: Mike Ellis, Richard Tate, Robert Bozeman, Sandy Waters, Jeff Kimbro, David Cooper and Mitch Crutchfield; Robert Mason, Jeff Brock, Randy Brock, Steven Likens, Tommy Weaver, Mike Adams, Mike Raines and Al Moorer; Eddie Edeker, manager of the Orioles.”

“The Chicks won the championship of the American League and then downed the All Stars in a fine ball game concluding play for the summer in the Evergreen Jr. Baseball League. Shown are Richard Nix, Leo Cobb, Randy Jordan, ‘Trip’ Hendrix, Stanley Stuckey, ‘Cricket’ Jordan and Lance Riley; Mark Phillips, Darwin Nix, Wesley Langford, Terry Peacock, Andy Findley, Darrell Davis, Lloyd Davis, Lloyd Johnson, Bud Evers and Cris McNeil; Manager David Riley. Not present for the picture were Assistant Manager Larry Peacock, Jeff Hutcheson and Tommy Halstead.”

“These National League All Stars wound up the 1972 season losing a close one to the champion Dodgers on July 14. Shown are Manager Floyd Coker of the Yankees, Johnny Windham, Gray Stevens, David Bass, Wendell Parker, Kenny Bates and Giants Manager Kilmer Bodiford; Keith Taylor, Jimmy Hawsey, Mark Palanjian, Ray Cooper, Pat Yeargan, assistant manager of the Yankees, Mike Webb, Bobby Padgett, Joel Weaver and Wade Crutchfield.”

“Ivey is champ, but the Andrews have it in golf: Bill Ivey fired a superb 5 under par 67 to win the Evergreen Golf Club’s Membership Tournament Sunday, but the Andrews won the most loot with father Bill and sons Jim and Joe all winning prizes.
“Winners, runners-up and consolation winners by flights were:
“Championship: Bill Ivey, Dr. Joe Hagood Jr. (now of Selma but still a member of the local club) and Bill Bailey.
“First: David Hyde, Nell Stuart and Jim Andrews.
“Second, Charles Lambert, Bill Andrews and Donnie Kast.
“Third: Andy Physentzides, Joe Nix and Wayne Peacock.
“Fourth: Darwin Mininger, Richard Tindol and Buddy Evers.
“Fifth: Joe Andrews, Joey Nix and John Hendricks.”

54 YEARS AGO
JULY 25, 1957

“Handicap Tournament Will Start Saturday; Entry Deadline Friday: Friday, July 26, is the deadline for entries in the Evergreen Golf Club’s 8th Annual Handicap Golf Tournament, according to C.T. Ivey, Chairman.
“Those who are already officially entered are: Bill Ivey, Bonnie King, L.W. Price Jr., Jack Newman, Bill Millsap, Charles Lambert, Palmer Smith, Henry Kinzer, Elmo Grace, Brown Boykin, Bob Croom, Bill Register, James Pittman, Roy Pace, Bill McGehee, Bayne Petrey, Thad Ivey, Dickey Bozeman, Herbert Harpe and Herman Bolden.
“Others expected to play in the tourney are: Paul Pace, Jim Murphy, Bob Kendall, Bill Turk, Vernon Millsap, Henry Sessions, Joe Martin, Jabbo Barron, Knud Nielsen, Billy Grace, Joe Hagood Jr., Howard Claybook and several others.”

“PAUL by Kate Frazer: In a run-away game played at the Paul field last Sunday, the Paul team swamped the Castleberry nine by the lop-sided score of 17 to 8. Next Sunday, the Paul team will travel to Buck Creek to play on the field there.”

Standout players listed in the Evergreen Junior Baseball League recaps included Steve Baggett, Mike Brooks, Ronnie Byrd, John Cloud, Stan Coker, Malcolm Croft, Homer Faulkner, Jackie Frazier, Allison Gaston, Billy Hammonds, Ronnie Hayes, Don Holcombe, Orman Jackson, Ronnie Jackson, Bill Kendall, Sid Lambert, Lewie Nall, William Patten, Yogi Reynolds and Jimmy Warren.

69 YEARS AGO
JULY 23, 1942

“Marvin L. Burroughs Jr., 13, Tuscaloosa, caught from Smith Lake near Eutaw, a 27-1/2-inch trout weighing seven pounds, eight ounces. Houston Wood, auto salesman, caught a seven pound, 12 ounce trout in West Alabama waters.”

“Songbird Shooters Warned By Morgan: Thoughtless persons, mainly boys with air guns and .22 rifles, who have been destroying songbirds in various localities are warned by Chief Ben C. Morgan, of the Dept. of Conservation’s Game, Fish and Seafood Division, that they are doing so in violation of both federal and state laws and may be punished for such offenses.”

“Rearick Re-Elected State Casters Head: A.E. Rearick, Gadsden, was reelected president of the Alabama State Casting Association at its annual tournament Sunday. Named vice presidents were A.R. ‘Pete’ Kelly, Wetumpka, and Mrs. Helen Silver, Birmingham, with Robert F. Starr, Montgomery, secretary-treasurer.”

“Alabama’s dove shooters will lose 12 days and its duck hunters gain 10 days under the 1942-43 federal migratory bird hunting regulations promulgated by Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes.”

Compiled by Sports Reporter Lee Peacock from past issues of The Evergreen Courant. To read The Courant’s weekly Sports Flashback feature online, visit leepeacock2010.blogspot.com.

Has anyone from Conecuh County ever 'thru-hiked' the Appalachian Trail?


More than a few readers have told me how much they enjoyed reading about Jeff Daniels’ effort to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in last week’s edition of The Courant.

For those of you who missed the story, which appeared on the front page, Daniels, who lives in Evergreen, began hiking the AT on March 13 at Stringer Mountain, Ga. and hopes to reach the end of the trail at Katahdin, Maine in mid-September. The AT is arguably the world’s most famous hiking trail and at 2,181-miles long, it passes through 14 states.

To say that an attempt to hike the entire length of the AT, commonly called “thru-hiking,” is a monumental accomplishment would be an understatement. Only a small percentage of the hikers who set out to thru-hike the AT actually finish the trip for a number of reasons. Foul weather, injury, sickness, poor planning, loneliness and exhaustion are only a few of the many reasons that hikers don’t finish the trip.

Daniels has less than 600 miles to go, and when he arrives at Katahdin, Maine, I think it’s safe to say that he’ll secure his place among the Who’s Who of Conecuh County.

I’ve asked around, and as far as I can tell, no resident of Conecuh County has ever successfully hiked the entire length of the AT in one trip. A number of county residents have hiked portions of the AT, but none, so far as I can tell, have hiked the entire trail all in one trip.

With that said, if any of you know of a Conecuh County resident who has successfully hiked the AT, please call me at The Courant office at 251-578-1492.

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The members of the Alabama Sports Writers Association had to have their preseason football poll ballots turned in before 5 p.m. on Monday, and the poll will be released on Wed., Aug. 3. The preseason poll was originally scheduled to be released on Sun., July 31, but was pushed back a few days this year by the poll’s organizers.

I won’t be surprised to see Hillcrest High School receive a number of votes in the preseason poll. Despite the fact that the Jags will have to replace a five-year starter at quarterback, many sportswriters around the state are aware that Larry Boykin is Hillcrest’s head coach. They know what type of team he’s capable of putting on the field, and many writers, especially in southwest Alabama, are expecting the Jags to be very competitive.

----- 0 -----


A few of you have also asked me if we’re going to set up another College Football Pick ‘Em group on ESPN.com this year, and the short answer is “yes.”

I checked the site on Monday, and this year’s contest isn’t open. As soon as they kick off the contest, I’ll set up a group and we’ll let the fun begin.

For those of you unfamiliar with this free contest, it allows local college football fans an opportunity to pick the winners of 10 college games over the course of the season to see how they match up against their buddies and other local football fans.

'Rogue Angel' tells of one of FBI's most wanted, charity founder

My friend Danny Golson loaned me a good book the other day, a book that many of you would probably enjoy reading, “Rogue Angel” by Jodi Werhanowicz.

Subtitled “The Spiritual Journey of One of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted,” the book is about Mary Kay Beard, the founder of the Angel Tree Christmas gift charity that many of you will be familiar with.

Beard’s story is an interesting one. Raised by an abusive, alcoholic father and a deeply Christian mother, Beard was a straight-A student in school and went on to become a nurse. As a young woman, she married the “man of her dreams,” who, she would later learn, made his living as a gambler and bank robber. She eventually began helping her husband carry out bank robberies and commit other crimes, and at the age of 27 she found herself on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.

Her husband left her and she abandoned her own son with relatives, all the while having a mafia contract out on her head and outstanding criminal warrants against her in four states. After a 1972 robbery in Tuscaloosa in which she was dubbed the “Polite Lady Robber” by the papers, Beard was arrested by the FBI and was eventually sent to prison for armed robbery.

As the story goes, Beard finds herself in solitary confinement with a Gideon Bible and has a spiritual transformation in the Birmingham City Jail. She eventually begins a Bible study group in prison and becomes a model prisoner. She earns an early release from prison and begins working as a counselor and public speaker.

Based on her experiences in prison, Beard leads an effort to create a Christmas gift charity so that prisoners will have gifts to give their children during the holidays. Having been a prisoner herself, Beard recognized that prisoners are people too and all too often their children, through no fault of their own, suffered from having one or more parents behind bars, especially during the holidays. Beard’s charity effort eventually evolved into the Angel Tree charity.

Published by Ezekiel Press in Phoenix, Ariz., this 272-page book features an introduction by Charles Colson, who went to federal prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. “This book is a great read, very exciting and inspiring,” Colson said. “As I worked by way through the pages, I found myself many times in tears, thanking God for this woman’s life. I recommend a lot of books, but this is one I want to tell you that you must read.”

Today, Beard lives in Birmingham and holds a master’s degree in counseling from Auburn University. Most recently, she worked as the lead counselor at Impact Family Counseling in Birmingham, where she taught parenting classes, trained volunteers and supervised interns.

In the end, I enjoyed reading “Rogue Angel” and found Beard’s story to be very inspirational. She’s a prime example of a person who has turned her life around despite what she’s done in the past. A person who went from being one of the FBI’s most wanted to a person who has helped a lot of people, Beard’s story is one that we can all learn something from.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My movie picks this week are 'Cowboys and Aliens' and 'Source Code'


It’s Wednesday, so today I give you my weekly list of movies that will open in theatres this week as well as a list of movies that will be released this week on DVD.

I hope this will serve as a useful guide as to what’s going on this week if you happen to be near a movie theatre or if you’re looking for something to drop into your NetFlix queue.

Movies that are scheduled to hit theatres this week include:

- Attack the Block (Action, Science Fiction, R): Directed by Joe Cornish and starring John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones and Jodie Whittaker.

- Cowboys and Aliens (Action, Science Fiction, PG-13): Directed by Jon Fayreau and starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell and Adam Beach.

- Crazy, Stupid, Love (Comedy, Romance, PG-13): Directed by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra and starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore and Kevin Bacon.

- The Devil’s Double (Action, Drama, R): Directed by Lee Tamahori and starring Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Philip Quast, Mem Ferda and Raad Rawi.

- The Future (Drama, R): Directed by Miranda July and starring Miranda July, Hamish Linklater, David Warshofsky, Isabella Acres and Joe Putterlik.

- Good Neighbors (Suspense, Comedy, R): Directed by Jacob Tierney and starring Jay Baruchel, Scott Speedman, Xavier Dolan, Emily Hampshire and Gary Farmer.

- The Guard (Comedy, Mystery, R): Directed John Michael McDonagh and starring Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, Fionnula Flanagan and Liam Cunningham.

- The Interrupters (Documentary, Special Interest, Not Rated): Directed by Steve James.

- Life in a Day (Documentary, Special Interest, Not Rated): Directed by Kevin McDonald.

- The Smurfs (Animation, Family, Fantasy, Comedy, PG): Directed by Raja Gosnell and starring Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Hank Azaria, Sofia Vergara and Jonathan Winters.

- Spiderhole (Drama, Thriller, Not Yet Rated): Starring Emma Griffiths-Malin, Reuben Henry-Biggs, Amy Noble and George Maguire.

New DVD releases for the week of July 26 include:

- Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe (Suspense, Crime, Not Rated): Directed by Jeffrey Donovan and starring Bruce Campbell, Kiele Sanchez, RonReaco Lee, Pedro Pascal and Ilza Rosario.

- Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (Horror, Comedy, PG-13): Directed by Kevin Munroe and starring Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, Taye Diggs, Brian Steele and Peter Stormare.

- Flesh Wounds (Action, Science Fiction, R): Directed by Dan Garcia and starring Kevin Sorbo, Heather Marie Marsden, Bokeem Woodbine, Kirk Kepper and Johnny Lee.

- Ironclad (Drama, Action, R): Directed by Jonathan English and starring Paul Giamatti, James Purefoy, Brian Cox, Kate Mara and Derek Jacobi.

- Life During Wartime (Drama, Comedy, R): Directed by Todd Solondz and starring Paul Reubens, Allison Janney, Paul Dano, Ally Sheedy and Renee Taylor.

- Mao’s Last Dancer (Drama, PG): Directed by Bruce Beresford and starring Kyle MacLachlan, Bruce Greenwood, Joan Chen, Amanda Schull and Shuang Bao Wang.

- Scream of the Banshee (Horror, R): Directed by Steven C. Miller and starring Lauren Holly, Lance Henriksen, Monica Acosta, Eric F. Adams and Marcelle Baer.

- Source Code (Action, Science Fiction, Thriller, PG-13): Directed by Duncan Jones and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright and Russell Peters.

- The Task (Horror, Suspense, R): Directed by Alex Orwell and starring Alexandra Staden, Victor McGuire, Adam Rayner, Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Ashley Mulheron.

- Trust (Drama, R): Directed by David Schwimmer and starring Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Liana Liberato, Viola Davis and Jason Clarke.

If I could only watch one movie at the theatre this week, it would be “Cowboys and Aliens,” and if I had to pick just one DVD to rent this week, it would be “Source Code.”

In the end, let me know if you get a chance to watch any of the new movies in theatres this week or if you’ve already seen any of the movies that have just been released on DVD. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2011 Eisner Awards presented at Comic-Con Friday night

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were presented Friday night at Comic-Con International at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego.

Considered the “Oscars of Comics,” the Eisner Awards honor the best and brightest of the comics industry and are presented annually at Comic-Con, which is the world’s biggest and most prestigious comic book industry event in the world.

Over 30 awards were presented and the complete list of winners is as follows:

Best Graphic Album (New) - Return of the Dapper Men, by Jim McCann and Janet Lee (Archaia) and Wilson, by Daniel Clowes (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Writer - Joe Hill, Lock & Key (IDW)

Best Cover Artist - Mike Mignola, Hellboy, Baltimore: The Plague Ships, pictured above, (Dark Horse)

Best Comics-Related Book - 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking, by Paul Levitz (TASCHEN)

Best Graphic Album (Reprint) - Wednesday Comics, edited by Mark Chiarello (DC)

Best Short Story - "Post Mortem," by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, in I Am an Avenger #2 (Marvel)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot) - Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil, by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben (Dark Horse)

Best Continuing Series - Chew, by John Layman and Rob Guillory (Image)

Best Limited Series - Daytripper, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Vertigo/DC)

Best New Series - American Vampire, by Scott Snyder, Stephen King, and Rafael Albuquerque (Vertigo/DC)

Best Publication for Kids - Tiny Titans, by Art Baltazar and Franco (DC)

Best Publication for Teens - Smile, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix)

Best Humor Publication - I Thought You Would Be Funnier, by Shannon Wheeler (BOOM!)

Best Anthology - Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, edited by Paul Morrissey and David Petersen (Archaia)

Best Digital Comic - Abominable Charles Christopher, by Karl Kerschl, www.abominable.cc

Best Reality-Based Work - It Was the War of the Trenches, by Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics)

Best Adaptation from Another Work - The Marvelous Land of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young (Marvel)

Best Archival Collection/Project (Strips) - Archie: The Complete Daily Newspaper Strips, 1946–1948, by Bob Montana, edited by Greg Goldstein (IDW)

Best Archival Collection/Project (Comic Books) - Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer Artist's Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material - It Was the War of the Trenches, by Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material (Asia) - Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)

Best Writer/Artist - Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit (IDW)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team - Skottie Young, The Marvelous Land of Oz (Marvel)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art) - Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad (Dark Horse)

Best Coloring - Dave Stewart, Hellboy, BPRD, Baltimore, Let Me In (Dark Horse); Detective Comics (DC); Neil Young's Greendale, Daytripper, Joe the Barbarian (Vertigo/DC)

Best Lettering - Todd Klein, Fables, The Unwritten, Joe the Barbarian, iZombie (Vertigo/DC); Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom (WildStorm/DC); SHIELD (Marvel); Driver for the Dead (Radical)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism - ComicBookResources, produced by Jonah Weiland (www.comicbookresources.com)

Best Publication Design - Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer Artist's Edition, designed by Randall Dahlk (IDW)

HALL OF FAME

Judges' Choices: Ernie Bushmiller, Jack Jackson, Martin Nodell, Lynd Ward
Elected: Mort Drucker, Harvey Pekar, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman

Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award: Nate Simpson

Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award: Patrick McDonnell

Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Book Writing Award: Del Connell, Bob Haney

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award: Comics & Vegetables, Tel Aviv, Israel - Yuval Sharon, Danny Amitai

In the end, what do you think of this year’s slate of winners? Which of these comics and graphic novels have you had a chance to read? Which did you like or dislike? Which would you recommend and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Monday, July 25, 2011

CWA announces five 2011 Dagger Award winners

Over the weekend, Britain’s Crime Writers Association announced the winners of five of this year’s Dagger Awards and released the longlists of finalists in four other categories.

“Three Seconds” by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom won the CWA International Dagger Award.

“The Killer of Little Shepherds” by Douglas Starr won the Gold Dagger for Non-fiction.

“Homework” by Phil Lovesey won the Short Story Dagger Award.

“What Hidden Lies” by Michele Rowe won the CWA Debut Dagger Award.

Mo Hayder won the Dagger in the Library Award for “best body of work.”

Also, over the weekend, the CWA announced the longlist of finalists in four other categories – CWA Gold Dagger Award, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award and ITV3 People’s Bestseller Dagger Award.

The longlist for the CWA Gold Dagger Award include:
- “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” by Tom Franklin
- “Hanging Hill” by Mo Hayder
- “Snowdrops” by A.D. Miller
- “The Cypress House” by Michael Koryta
- “The End of the Wasp Season” by Denise Mina
- “The Lock Artist” by Steve Hamilton
- “The Villa Triste” by Lucretia Grindle
- “White Heat” by M.J. McGrath

The longlist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award include:
- “An Agent of Deceit” by Chris Morgan Jones
- “Before I Go To Sleep” by S.J. Watson
- “Cold Rain” by Craig Smith
- “Savages” by Don Winslow
- “The Cobra” by Frederick Forsyth
- “The Good Son” by Michael Gruber
- “The Lock Artist” by Steve Hamilton
- “The Trinity Six” by Charles Cumming

The longlist for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award include:
- “Before I Go To Sleep” by S.J. Watson
- “Into The Darkest Corner” by Elizabeth Haynes
- “Kiss Me Quick” by Danny Miller
- “Or The Bull Kills You” by Jason Webster
- “Sister” by Rosamund Lupton
- “The Dead Woman of Juárez” by Sam Hawken
- “The Dogs of Rome” by Conor Fitzgerald
- “The Poison Tree” by Erin Kelly

The longlist for the ITV3 People's Bestseller Dagger Award include:
- “The Sixth Man” by David Baldacci
- “Worth Dying For” by Lee Child
- “Good As Dead” by Mark Billingham
- “Dead Man's Grip” by Peter James
- “Before the Poison” by Peter Robinson

The shortlists in the categories above will be announced on Aug. 22, and the winners will be announced on Oct. 7.

In the end, how many of the books mentioned above have you had a chance to read? Which did you like or dislike? Which would you recommend and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

EMT class to be held in Monroeville

A meeting will be held on Aug. 23 for persons interested in registering for a National Registry EMT-Basic class to be held this fall in Monroeville. If 15 students register for the class, it will be held in the Nursing Building at Alabama Southern Community College in Monroeville. Classes will be held on Tuesday and Thursday nights, starting in September and ending in February. The instructors will be paramedics Tom Lindsey and Butch Cobb. Tuition for the class is $570 plus the cost of a textbook. For more information about the Aug. 23 meeting and the class, call 251-743-2623.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

'A Dance With Dragons' tops hardcover fiction best-sellers list

It’s Sunday, so that means that it’s time for my weekly review of this week’s Publishers Weekly Best-Seller List. According to the list, we’ve got three new books at the top of the four major best-seller lists this week.

"A Dance With Dragons" by George R.R. Martin replaced "Now You See Her" by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge as the No. 1 book on the hardcover fiction best-sellers list.

"A Stolen Life" by Jaycee Dugard replaced "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand as the top book on the hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list.

"A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin replaced "Hell's Corner" by David Baldacci as the No. 1 book on the mass market paperback best-sellers list.

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett retained the top spot on the trade paperbacks best-sellers list.

There are five books on this week’s hardcover fiction best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They (along with their place on the list) include "A Dance With Dragons" by George R.R. Martin (1), "Then Came You" by Jennifer Weiner (3), "Quinn" by Iris Johansen (6), "Before I Go to Sleep" by S.J. Watson (7) and "Iron House" by John Hart (10).

There are three books on this week’s hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They include "A Stolen Life" by Jaycee Dugard (1), "Of Thee I Zing" by Laura Ingraham with Raymond Arroyo (6) and "Sex on the Moon" by Ben Mezrich (15).

There are three books on this week’s mass market paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on that list last week. They include "Irish Hearts" by Nora Roberts (13), "Worst Case" by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge (14) and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson (15).

There are five books on this week’s trade paperbacks list that weren’t on the list last week. They include "Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin (9), "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls (12), "Empire of the Summer Moon" by S.C. Gwynne (13), "The Postcard Killers" by James Patterson & Liza Marklund (14) and "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay (15).

As a reminder, I’m posting these lists each Sunday because they, as a whole, represent a great, contemporary recommended reading list. These lists are initially released each week on Thursday, and if you’re interested in reading them then, visit Publishers Weekly’s Web site at www.publishersweekly.com. Below you’ll find all four of this week’s best-seller lists.

HARDCOVER FICTION
1. "A Dance With Dragons" by George R.R. Martin
2. "Now You See Her" by James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge
3. "Then Came You" by Jennifer Weiner
4. "Smokin' Seventeen" by Janet Evanovich
5. "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett
6. "Quinn" by Iris Johansen
7. "Before I Go to Sleep" by S.J. Watson
8. "Against All Enemies" by Tom Clancy and Peter Telep
9. "One Summer" by David Baldacci
10. "Iron House" by John Hart
11. "The Silent Girl: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel" by Tess Gerritsen
12. "Maine" by J. Courtney Sullivan
13. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson
14. "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain
15. "The Devil Colony" by James Rollins

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "A Stolen Life" by Jaycee Dugard
2. "Go the F--k to Sleep" by Adam Mansbach and Illustrations by Ricardo Cortes
3. "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand
4. "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson
5. "The 17 Day Diet: A Doctor's Plan Design for Rapid Results" by Dr. Mike Moreno
6. "Of Thee I Zing" by Laura Ingraham with Raymond Arroyo
7. "Bossypants" by Tina Fey
8. "The 4-Hour Body" by Timothy Ferriss
9. "The Greater Journey" by David McCullough
10. "The Dukan Diet" by Pierre Dukan
11. "SEAL Team Six" by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin
12. "Love Wins" by Rob Bell
13. "Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me" by Chelsea's Family, Friends & Other Victims
14. "Through My Eyes" by Tim Tebow and Nathan Whitaker
15. "Sex on the Moon" by Ben Mezrich

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin
2. "A Clash of Kings" by George R.R. Martin
3. "Hell's Corner" by David Baldacci
4. "Whiplash" by Catherine Coulter
5. "A Storm of Swords" by George R.R. Martin
6. "Sizzling Sixteen" by Janet Evanovich
7. "Tough Customer: A Novel" by Sandra Brown
8. "A Feast for Crows" by George R.R. Martin
9. "Family Ties: A Novel" by Danielle Steel
10. "The Rembrandt Affair" by Daniel Silva
11. "The Creed Legacy" by Linda Lael Miller
12. "Betrayal" by Fern Michaels
13. "Irish Hearts" by Nora Roberts
14. "Worst Case" by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
15. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett
2. "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo, Sonja Burpo, Colton Burpo and Lynn Vincent
3. "Room" by Emma Donoghue
4. "Water for Elephants: A Novel" by Sara Gruen
5. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot
6. "One Day" by David Nicholls
7. "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell
8. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese
9. "Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin
10. "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan
11. "The Original Argument" by Glenn Beck
12. "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls
13. "Empire of the Summer Moon" by S.C. Gwynne
14. "The Postcard Killers" by James Patterson & Liza Marklund
15. "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay

In the end, let me know if you’ve had a chance to read any of these books. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jimmy Fallon's 'Thank You Notes' book is eye-wateringly funny

My friend and down the road neighbor, Jenny Lint, loaned me and my wife, Crystal, a book last night that is not only a quick read, but also eye-wateringly hilarious - “Thank You Notes” by Jimmy Fallon With the Writers of Late Night.”

Published in May by Grand Central Publishing, this 166-page book is a collection of humorously sarcastic thank you notes, which are a regular bit on the TV show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Fallon, who starred on Saturday Night Live for five years, replaced Conan O’Brien on Late Night in 2009. Over time, Fallon’s thank you notes segment has become a fan favorite, and many liken it to David Letterman’s famous Top 10 lists or SNL’s “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey.”

For those of you unfamiliar with Fallon’s thank you notes, the best way for me to give you an idea of what I’m talking about is to give you a few samples from the book. It’s Saturday night, so what the heck. Enjoy these excerpts from the book.

Thank You… Taco Bell Chihuahua, for your many years of faithful service as a mildly offensive Mexican stereotype.

Thank You… ants around my kitchen sink, for allowing every day to start with murder. Every day you take the paper towel express to Toiletville and yet more of you arrive the next morning. I don’t get it, ants. But thank you.

Thank you… Dog Snuggie, for allowing us to embarrass animals in a way I never imagined possibly. You did it. Thanks for that.

Thank you… preseason football, for having all the excitement, commercials, and time-outs of the regular season, but with none of the mattering. I appreciate that. Thank you.

Thank you… fantasy football draft, for letting me know that even in my fantasies, I am bad at sports.

Thank you… the F12 button on my keyboard. What is it you do again? Oh, that’s right – nothing.

Thank you… the name Lloyd, for starting with two Ls. I’m glad both those Ls were there, because otherwise I would have called you “Loyd.”

Thank you… flour, for keeping the paper sack container business alive. Don’t want to change your packaging, huh? Whenever I buy you I feel like I’m Charles Ingalls buying something from Oleson’s store on credit.

Thank you… zebras, for showing me what horses would look like if I were on acid.

Thank you… microbreweries, for making my alcoholism seem like a neat hobby.

And last, but not least…

Thank you… football season, for starting this week… and for finally making my habit of getting drunk at 11:00 in the morning every Sunday seem perfectly normal.

And, I’ll stop right there, because you get the picture. If you thought those were funny, then you need to read the entire book. It’s hilarious.

You might also want to check out Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. It airs Monday through Friday on NBC, starting at 11:35 p.m. Central Time.

In the end, how many of you have already read Fallon’s “Thank You Notes” book? What did you think about it? Which of the notes was your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Evergreen's Jeff Daniels nears the end of Appalachian Trail

With less than 650 miles to go, an Evergreen man is about two months away from completing his quest to hike the world famous Appalachian Trail.

In a phone interview with The Courant from Upper Goose Pond, Mass. on Tuesday morning, Jeff Daniels, 53, of Evergreen reported that he’s hiked 1,540 miles of the trail, commonly called the “AT,” since the start of his trip. Daniels began his trip on March 13 in Springer Mountain, Ga. and plans to finish the 2,181-mile hike in mid-September at the trail’s end in Katahdin, Maine.

The Appalachian Trail is arguably the most famous hiking trail in the world. Stretching from Georgia to Maine, the trail passes through a number of other states, including North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. While some portions of the trail cross through towns along the way, most of the trail is surrounded by vast stretches of wilderness.

The trail attracts hikers from around the world, but Daniels is one of a small percentage of hikers, called “thru-hikers,” who attempt to hike the trail’s entire length in one trip.

“It’s been a lot of fun, but it has also been the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” Daniels said on Tuesday. “I’ve struggled to maintain my bodyweight because of the added physical activity. I weighed 174 pounds when I started, and now I’m in the high 140s. I just try to eat as much as I can, when I can, and get as many calories down as I can. Most folks can make it on 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day under normal circumstances, but on the trail, carrying a 35-pound pack, I go through that pretty quick.

“It’s also been very demanding from a mental standpoint, just knowing every morning when you get up that you’re still on the trail and have to get going in order to get all the way to the end.”

Daniels knew in the beginning that thru-hiking the AT would be no easy task. Such trips normally take between five and seven months, and historically less than 25 percent of the hikers who set out to thru-hike the AT finish the trip.

Daniels noted that a year of preparation prior to the trip has helped him stay focused and on the trail for this long.

“A lot of it is just putting one foot in front of the other,” he said. “I just get up each day and set small goals, and it’s gotten me this far.”

Daniels tries to log 16 miles per day, but he has covered as much as 24 miles in a single day, he said.

“The terrain and weather have an impact on that, but I try to do at least 16 miles a day,” he said.

Daniels also noted that the trip would have been impossible without the support of his family, especially his wife, Kelly, and their four children.

“It’s been hard being away from my family this long, but they’ve been great and very supportive,” Daniels said. “And on my birthday, they met me at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, and we spent four days together there as a family. That was a big boost for me at the halfway point of the trip.”

(Daniels is keeping an online journal of his trip, and it can be read at www.trailjournals.com/moondoggie. Also, look for continuing updates about Daniels’ trip in future editions of The Courant.”)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

UFO reports, a new 'Dark Tower' novel and Alabama's top 10 events list

A friend sent me some information a couple of days ago about a website where you can look up UFO reports from around the world, and I was surprised by how many reports are made by people in Alabama. The site, www.mufon.com, is operated by the “Mutual UFO Network.”

A search for UFO reports in Alabama between June 1 and June 30 resulted in one report that some of you might find interesting. The sighting took place on June 28, and the witness said that he was walking back to his hotel from a restaurant when he saw something unusual.

“I had taken a moment to look up and see if I could see stars in the sky. Upon looking up towards the south, I noticed a bright object emitting a reddish color. A moment or more later, I noticed more objects to the further south. Each had a stationary appearance and then upon a few moments more observation, they began changing color and flickering and some in the far distance began swaying and in my words ‘dancing’ in a slight side to side movement.

“At first I wasn't able to really tell if these were advertisement balloons or something else in the sky until they really started to do special movements and changes in color, etc. After a long period of just observing and such, the farther ones kind of faded away off to some other part beyond vision while the closer one seemed to stick around with me for awhile.

“Eventually I had to go inside, and the close one also gradually went away. Hopefully there were others that observed them also.”

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Fans of writer Stephen King in the reading audience will be pleased to hear that the “King of Horror” is planning to release another novel in his “Dark Tower” series.

The novel, “The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole,” is expected to be released in April 2012. For those of you familiar with this series, the events in “The Wind Through the Keyhole” take place between “Wizard and Glass” and “Wolves of the Calla.”

In my opinion, King’s seven previous “Dark Tower” books are among the best books that he’s written. If you like a good story, I recommend that you check out this series of books. You won’t be disappointed.

The complete series is as follows “The Gunslinger” (1982), “The Drawing of the Three” (1987), “The Waste Lands” (1991), “Wizard and Glass” (1997), “Wolves of the Calla” (2003), “Song of Susannah” (2004) and “The Dark Tower” (2004).

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Also this week, the good folks at the Alabama Tourism Department released their monthly list of events to attend across the state.

Their Top 10 list for the month of August includes the following events:
– The 25th Annual World’s Longest Yard Sale in Fort Payne, Aug. 4-7
- The Gulf Coast Ethnic & Heritage Jazz Festival in Mobile, Aug. 4-7
- The Albertville City Festival 2011 in Albertville, Aug. 5-6
- The “Battle of Mobile Bay” Commemorative Day at Dauphin Island, Aug. 6
- The DeKalb County Fiddlers Convention in Fort Payne, Aug. 6
- Celebrating Contemporary Art in Alabama: The Biennial 2011 in Troy, Aug. 15-Nov. 10
- The 18th Annual Buckmasters Expo in Montgomery, Aug. 19-21
- The 12th Annual Muster on the Tallapoosa in Alexander City, Aug. 20
- Stokin’ the Fire BBQ Festival in Birmingham, Aug. 20
- The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival in Eutaw, Aug. 27-28.

For more information about these events, check out the state tourism department’s website at www.alabama.travel.

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for July 21, 2011

11 YEARS AGO
JULY 20, 2000

“Mitchell receives scholarship to Alabama A&M University: Ophelia D. Mitchell has received a full athletic scholarship in track and field from Alabama A&M University. When she returns to school this fall Ophelia will be in her junior year of college. Her major is physical education. She has been on the dean’s list several times since attending Alabama A&M University.
“Ophelia also won two gold medals in the track and field competition at the 2000 Alabama Sports Festival games held July 1st.
“I hope to go to the 2004 Olympic games, which will be held in Athens, Greece. That is my goal and I am working on getting to that at this time. I would like to tell all young people coming up to never stop dreaming, because one day their dreams could come true,” Ophelia stated.
“She is the daughter of Julia Murphy of Castleberry.”

26 YEARS AGO
JULY 18, 1985

“CCHS QB MEETING: There will be a meeting of the Conecuh County High School Quarterback Club tonight at 7 o’clock at the school. All members and interested persons are urged to attend.”

“Mr. and Mrs. Jack Benefield of Castleberry went on a fishing trip to Camden with their daughter, Ann, and her husband, Bill Walker, from Pensacola. Mr. Jack, how was the fishing? Did the big one get away again?”

“All Stars of Evergreen, coached by Billy Wayne Godwin of Castleberry, and Ernest Boykin of Evergreen had a won one and lost two season. I would like to recognize three of the players from Castleberry, Bryen Garrett, Robert Odom and Keith Richerson. Good playing, boys.
“Gary and Sue Darby hosted a swimming party for the Cubs baseball team of Castleberry, coached by Billy Wayne Godwin, Verlon Dolihite and James (Red) Blaid. The Cubs won the championship from Evergreen.”

“Kathy Darby, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Don Darby, has returned from Atlanta, Ga., where she attended gymnastic school from July 10-15. Vicki Blackman from Evergreen, was another girl who attended the school. We hope to see these girls in the Olympics some day.”

41 YEARS AGO
JULY 16, 1970

The Dodgers were champs of the ‘big league,’ the National League of the Evergreen Jr. Baseball League this summer. Members of the club are Keith Killough, Darrell Harper, Andrew Skipper, John Bolton, Keith Pugh, Jerry Peacock, Bobby Johnson, Thomas Kervin, Randy Smith, Turner Murphy and John Ellis.”

“The Chicks wound up in their customary place, finishing first in the American League of the Evergreen Jr. Baseball League this summer. The boys are Terry Peacock, Ben Smith, Doug McClamey, Allen Newton, Chris McNeil, Randy Brown, Tommy Hutcheson, Wesley Langford, Robert Phillips, Scott Dees, Tracy Weaver, Randy Jordan, Sonny Bradley, Mark Phillips, Jimmy Lambert and Wesley Stuckey.”

“Buddy Carrier is congratulated and presented a trophy as Most Valuable Player of the National League All Star Game by Evergreen Jr. Baseball League President Eldon Scott.”

“Brett Gearhart is presented a trophy as Most Valuable Player of the American League All Star Game by President Eldon Scott of the Evergreen Jr. Baseball League.”

“Lyeffion Football practice: Football practice will be held Thursday night, July 16, at 7 o’clock at Lyeffion High School. All members of the Yellow Jackets team are urged to attend.”

56 YEARS AGO
JULY 21, 1955

“Lyeffion Jumps Paul, Avenging Earlier Loss: Lyeffion jumped on Paul pitching early and won going away 17 to 0 in a Conecuh County Amateur League game Sunday. Dees and Evers pitched very good ball for Lyeffion with Martin catching. Cobb, Riley and McLendon pitched for Paul.
“Games Scheduled for July 24: Lyeffion at McKenzie; Garland at Paul; Chapman at Old Texas.”

“Mr. R.V. McLendon, Mr. W.R. Brewer, Mr. Clay Gibson, Mr. G.F. Spivey and James Wright left Tuesday morning on a big fishing trip to Little River. They plan and hope to come back with many interesting fish ‘tales.’”

“Red Sox Pull Ahead in Little League Play: In the tightest and best played ball game of the year, in the Little League, the Yankees squeezed by the Giants by a 2-1. H.W. Ward got credit for the win, giving up four hits, while Eddie Lambert, giving up only two hits, was tagged for the loss.
“Wayne Blair, Stan Coker, Eddie Lambert and Clyde Britt got the four hits for the Giants, and H.W. Ward and Joel Watson each got one for the Yankees.
“On Wednesday, July 13, the Red Sox grabbed a firmer hold on first place by beating the second place Yankees again by a 13-10 score. LeGrand Lynch gave up only two hits for the Red Sox, but walked a total of 14 men. He struck out 13. H.W. Ward was tagged for the loss, walking only four men, and striking out 13.
“Leading the batting for the Red Sox were Billy Melton and LeGrand Lynch, with two hits for three trips to the plate. H.W. Ward and Jimmy Dunn garnered the two hits for the Yankees.”

71 YEARS AGO
JULY 18, 1940

“AMBITIOUS CYCLISTS VISIT CITY WEDNESDAY MORNING: Three ambitious and stout hearted riders of bicycles visited Evergreen Wednesday morning enroute from Birmingham to Pensacola, where they will spend a while at the Gulf.
“The youths stated they left Birmingham Sunday morning and expect to arrive in Pensacola sometime today (Thursday). They reported having had no bike trouble at all so far on the trip but have had some difficulty climbing steep hills. Their necessary traveling equipment is strapped on carriers mounted over the rear fender. The boys stated they sleep at any convenient place along the road and eat at the nearest eating place available.”

Compiled by Sports Reporter Lee Peacock from past issues of The Evergreen Courant. To read The Courant’s weekly Sports Flashback feature online, visit leepeacock2010.blogspot.com.

More signs of the coming football season are in the air

As the weeks tick off the calendar, I’m seeing more and more signs that football season is right around the corner.

We’ve got 29 days to go before the first official football game of the 2011 season in Conecuh County. Sparta Academy will play its season opener on Fri., Aug. 19, when they play Escambia Academy at Stuart-McGehee Field in Evergreen.

Hillcrest High School will play its season opener on Fri., Aug. 26, when they travel to Monroeville to take on Monroe County High School.

The first Alabama Sports Writers Association prep football poll will be released in about two weeks. Sports writers could begin casting their votes for the poll on Saturday and have to have them submitted by tomorrow (Friday) at 5 p.m.

One new wrinkle about the poll this year is that the ASWA will be releasing information about how each voter voted in the poll. This document will be made available for publication and more than a few newspapers will publish it on their websites.

While we’re on the subject, we’ve got 44 days left until the first full weekend of the college football season and 49 days left until the first game of the 2011 NFL season. The NFL season will officially begin on Thurs., Sept. 8, when the Saints play the Packers in Green Bay.

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The Mobile Press-Register ran a story in last Thursday’s edition about an adult kickball league that’s gaining popularity in Mobile as well as Birmingham and New Orleans. Mobile’s league is part of the Go Kickball network, which includes 25 kickball leagues all over the Southeast and other parts of the country.

Reading this reminded me of the few times that I’ve been approached here in Evergreen by people who have been interested in starting similar leagues, albeit not kickball.

On more than one occasion, I’ve had guys mention that they’d love to play in a flag football league or rugby league. This may not be as farfetched as it might sound because Evergreen once had a rugby team. In fact, they were pretty decent and even beat Auburn University’s rugby team on at least one occasion.

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ESPN held its annual ESPY Awards ceremony Wednesday of last week and handed out 23 ESPY Awards. (ESPY is short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award.)

In case you missed it, here is a complete list of the winners:

Best Breakthrough Athlete: Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers)
Best Championship Performance: Tim Thomas (Boston Bruins)
Best Upset: VCU (Virginia Commonwealth Rams)
Best Male College Athlete: Jimmer Fredette (Sacramento Kings)
Best Male Athlete: Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Best Female Athlete: Lindsay Vonn (skier)
Best Game: Eagles vs. Giants
Best Play: Abby Wambach (U.S. Women's Soccer Team)
Best NBA Player: Dirk Nowitzki
Best WNBA Player: Diana Taurasi
Best NFL Player: Aaron Rodgers
Best Driver: Jimmie Johnson
Best NHL Player: Tim Thomas
Best Male Tennis Player: Rafael Nadal
Best Female Tennis Player: Serena Williams
Best Fighter: Manny Pacquiano
Best Male Golfer: Rory Mcllroy
Best Comeback Player: Mark Herzlich (football)
Best Championship Performance: Tim Thomas
Best Moment: Roy Halladay post season no-hitter (MLB)
Best Sports Movie: The Fighter
Best Coach: Rick Carlisle (Dallas Mavericks)
Best Team: Dallas Mavericks

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My movie picks this week are 'Captain America: The First Avenger' and 'Limitless'


It’s Wednesday, so today I give you my weekly list of movies that will open in theatres this week as well as a list of movies that will be released this week on DVD.

I hope this will serve as a useful guide as to what’s going on this week if you happen to be near a movie theatre or if you’re looking for something to drop into your NetFlix queue.

Movies that are scheduled to hit theatres this week include:

- Another Earth (Drama, Science Fiction, PG-13): Directed by Mike Cahill and starring William Mapother, Brit Marling, Jordan Baker, Flint Beverage and Robin Taylor.

- Captain America: The First Avenger (Action, Adventure, PG-13): Directed by Joe Johnston and starring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson and Hayley Atwell.

- Friends With Benefits (Comedy, Romance, R): Directed by Will Gluck and starring Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone.

- A Little Help (Comedy, Drama, R): Directed by Michael J. Weithorn and starring Jenna Fischer, Chris O’Donnell, Daniel Yelsky, Rob Benedict and Lesley Ann Warren.

- The Myth of the American Sleepover (Comedy, Drama, Romance, Not Yet Rated): Directed by David Robert Mitchell and starring Jade Ramsey, Amy Seimetz, Nikita Ramsey, Amanda Bauer and Marlon Morton.

- Sarah’s Key (Drama, PG-13): Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner and starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Melusine Mayance, Niels Arestrup, Frederic Pierrot and Michel Duchaussoy.

- Singham (Action, Not Rated): Directed by Rohit Shetty and starring Ajay Devgn, Kajal Aggarwal, Prakash Raj, Ashok Saraf and Sachin Khedekar.

New DVD releases for the week of July 19 include:

- Arthur (Comedy, PG-13): Directed by Jason Winer and starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Luis Guzman and Greta Gerwig.

- Limitless (Action, Drama, Suspense, Thriller, PG-13): Directed by Neil Burger and starring Bradley Coopeer, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel and Johnny Whitworth.

- Rango (Comedy, Family, Animation, PG): Directed by Gore Verbinski and starring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina and Ray Winstone.

- Take Me Home Tonight (Comedy, Drama, R): Director Michael Dowse and starring Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer and Chris Pratt.

If I could only watch one movie at the theatre this week, it would be “Captain America: The First Avenger,” and if I had to pick just one DVD to rent this week, it would be “Limitless.”

In the end, let me know if you get a chance to watch any of the new movies in theatres this week or if you’ve already seen any of the movies that have just been released on DVD. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Which ESPY award-winning sports movie is your personal favorite?

The 19th Annual ESPY Awards were held Wednesday of last week at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, and of all 33 categories, there was one that I was especially interested in, that is, the Best Sports Movie ESPY Award.

The ESPYs, short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award, haven’t been around for that long, and the ESPY for Best Sports Movie has been around for an even shorter amount of time. The first ESPYs were given in 1993, and the first Best Sports Movie ESPY was awarded in 2002.

This year’s winner was “The Fighter,” a boxing movie directed by David O. Russell and starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. If you like movies, especially sports movies, you’ve probably seen this one or have at least heard about it. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture this year too, coming up short against “The King’s Speech.”

In any event, “The Fighter” joins a long list of great sports movies to have received an ESPY over the years. What follows is a complete list of the all-time winners.

2011 – The Fighter (boxing): Directed by David O. Russell and starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.

2010 – The Blind Side (football): Directed by John Lee Hancock and starring Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw and Kathy Bates.

2009 – The Express: The Ernie Davis Story (football): Directed by Gary Fleder and starring Dennis Quaid, Rob Brown and Charles S. Dutton.

2008 – Semi-Pro (basketball): Directed by Kent Alterman and starring Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Will Arnett and Andy Richter.

2007 – Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (stock car racing): Directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen and Michael Clarke Duncan.

2006 – Glory Road (basketball): Directed by James Gartner and starring Josh Lucas, Derek Luke and Jon Voight.

2005 – Friday Night Lights (football): Directed by Peter Berg and starring Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Tim McGraw and Derek Luke.

2004 – Miracle (hockey): Directed by Gavin O’Connor and starring Kurt Russell.

2003 – Bend It Like Beckham (soccer): Directed by Gurinder Chadha and starring Parminder Nagra, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keira Knightley.

2002 – The Rookie (baseball): Directed by John Lee Hancock and starring Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez and Brian Cox.

In the end, which of the movies mentioned above is your personal favorite and why? Which did you like or dislike and why? Which would you recommend and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Hunter S. Thompson (Which of his books is your favorite?)

Today – July 18 – should be a national holiday.

After all, it’s Hunter S. Thompson’s birthday.

Thompson, the “Father of Gonzo Journalism,” was born on this day in Louisville, Ky. His exploits are legendary and seem superhuman in retrospect. He was a heavy drinker, convicted felon, political candidate, Air Force veteran, known vandal, firearms buff, motorcycle enthusiast, pyromaniac, former sports editor and best-selling author.

He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at his home in Woody Creek, Colo. on Feb. 20, 2005. He was 76.

Thompson is credited with a number of books, including a couple that appeared after his death. Here’s a complete list of his books, in order of publication.

- Hells Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (1966)
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1971)
- Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973)
- Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979)
- The Curse of Lono (1983)
- Gonzo Papers, Vol. 2: Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ‘80s (1988)
- Gonzo Papers, Vol. 3: Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream (1990)
- Gonzo Papers, Vol. 4: Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie (1994)
- The Fear and Loathing Letters, Vol. 1: The Proud Highway: The Sage of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967 (1997)
- Mistah Leary – He Dead (1997)
- The Rum Diary: A Novel (1998)
- The Fear and Loathing Letters, Vol. 2: Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, 1968-1976 (2000)
- Screw-jack and Other Stories (2000)
- Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century (2003)
- Hey Rube: Blood Sports, the Bush Doctrine and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness: Modern History from the Sports Desk (2004)
- Fire in the Nuts (2004)
- Happy Birthday, Jack Nicholson (2005)
- GONZO: Photographs by Hunter S. Thompson (2006)
- The Mutineer: Rants, Ravings and Missives from the Mountaintop, 1977-2005 (2008)

If you’ve read all of these books, then you’re in rare company. Many of them are hard to find and expensive. For example, less than 200 copies of “Fire in the Nuts” were printed, and other editions of his books have been known to carry big price tags.

In addition to the books mentioned above, Thompson wrote hundreds of magazine articles, short stories, album liner notes and unpublished manuscripts.

Many of you may be familiar with Thompson from his portrayal in the movies. Comedian Bill Murray played Thompson in 1980’s “Where the Buffalo Roam,” and Johnny Depp played Thompson in 1998’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Thompson’s also been the subject of several documentaries, most notably 2008’s “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.”

In the end, how many of Thompson’s books have you had a chance to read? Which did you like or dislike? Which of his books is your favorite and why? Which would you recommend and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Four George R.R. Martin books on best-sellers list this week

It’s Sunday, so that means that it’s time for my weekly review of this week’s Publishers Weekly Best-Seller List. According to the list, we’ve got one new book at the top of the four major best-seller lists this week.

"Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand replaced "Go the F to Sleep" by Adam Mansbach with illustrations by Ricardo Cortes as the No. 1 book on the hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list.

"Now You See Her" by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge retained its place atop the the hardcover fiction best-sellers list.

"Hell's Corner" by David Baldacci retained the No. 1 spot on the mass market paperback best-sellers list.

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett also retained the top spot on the trade paperbacks best-sellers list.

There are three books on this week’s hardcover fiction best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They (along with their place on the list) include "The Silent Girl: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel" by Tess Gerritsen (3), "Betrayal of Trust: A J.P. Beaumont Novel" by J.A. Jance (9) and "Escape" by Barbara Delinsky (13).

There are four books on this week’s hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They include "SEAL Team Six" by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin (8), "The 4-Hour Body" by Timothy Ferriss (9), "Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me" by Chelsea's Family, Friends & Other Victims (12) and "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived" by Rob Bell (13).

There are four books on this week’s mass market paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on that list last week. They include "Whiplash" by Catherine Coulter (8), "The Rembrandt Affair" by Daniel Silva (9), "Family Ties: A Novel" by Danielle Steel (11) and "One Summer: A Shelter Bay Novel" by JoAnn Ross (15).

There are three books on this week’s trade paperbacks list that weren’t on the list last week. They include "Faithful Place: A Novel" by Tana French (12), "The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life Beyond This World" by Kevin Malarkey and Alex Malarkey (14) and "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini (15).

As a reminder, I’m posting these lists each Sunday because they, as a whole, represent a great, contemporary recommended reading list. These lists are initially released each week on Thursday, and if you’re interested in reading them then, visit Publishers Weekly’s Web site at www.publishersweekly.com. Below you’ll find all four of this week’s best-seller lists.

HARDCOVER FICTION
1. "Now You See Her" by James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge
2. "Smokin' Seventeen" by Janet Evanovich
3. "The Silent Girl: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel" by Tess Gerritsen
4. "Against All Enemies" by Tom Clancy and Peter Telep
5. "One Summer" by David Baldacci
6. "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett
7. "Maine" by J. Courtney Sullivan
8. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson
9. "Betrayal of Trust: A J.P. Beaumont Novel" by J.A. Jance
10. "Silver Girl: A Novel" by Elin Hilderbrand
11. "The Devil Colony" by James Rollins
12. "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain
13. "Escape" by Barbara Delinsky
14. "Folly Beach: A Lowcountry Tale" by Dorothea Benton Frank
15. "Sisterhood Everlasting: A Novel" by Ann Brashares

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand
2. "The 17 Day Diet: A Doctor's Plan Design for Rapid Results" by Dr. Mike Moreno
3. "Go the F--k to Sleep" by Adam Mansbach and Illustrations by Ricardo Cortes
4. "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson
5. "The Greater Journey" by David McCullough
6. "Bossypants" by Tina Fey
7. "The Dukan Diet" by Pierre Dukan
8. "SEAL Team Six" by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin
9. "The 4-Hour Body" by Timothy Ferriss
10. "The Miracle of Freedom" by Chris Stewart & Ted Stewart
11. "Reckless Endangerment" by Gretchen Morgenson & Joshua Rosner
12. "Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me" by Chelsea's Family, Friends & Other Victims
13. "Love Wins" by Rob Bell
14. "Through My Eyes" by Tim Tebow and Nathan Whitaker
15. "Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America" by Ann Coulter

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "Hell's Corner" by David Baldacci
2. "Sizzling Sixteen" by Janet Evanovich
3. "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin
4. "A Clash of Kings" by George R.R. Martin
5. "The Creed Legacy" by Linda Lael Miller
6. "A Storm of Swords" by George R.R. Martin
7. "Tough Customer: A Novel" by Sandra Brown
8. "Whiplash" by Catherine Coulter
9. "The Rembrandt Affair" by Daniel Silva
10. "A Feast for Crows" by George R.R. Martin
11. "Family Ties: A Novel" by Danielle Steel
12. "Betrayal" by Fern Michaels
13. "Deeper than Midnight" by Lara Adrian
14. "Savor the Danger" by Lori Foster
15. "One Summer: A Shelter Bay Novel" by JoAnn Ross

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett
2. "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo, Sonja Burpo, Colton Burpo and Lynn Vincent
3. "Room" by Emma Donoghue
4. "The Original Argument" by Glenn Beck
5. "Water for Elephants: A Novel" by Sara Gruen
6. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese
7. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot
8. "One Day" by David Nicholls
9. "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan
10. "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell
11. "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein
12. "Faithful Place: A Novel" by Tana French
13. "A Dog's Purpose" by W. Bruce Cameron
14. "The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven" by Kevin Malarkey and Alex Malarkey
15. "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini

In the end, let me know if you’ve had a chance to read any of these books. What did you think about them? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

'Bad Blood' receives 2011 Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel

The International Thriller Writers announced the winners of the 2011 Thriller Awards during this year’s ThrillerFest in New York City on July 9.

BAD BLOOD by John Sandford received the Best Hardcover Novel award.

The other finalists in that category included:
- THE REVERSAL by Michael Connelly
- EDGE by Jeffery Deaver
- THE BURYING PLACE Brian Freeman
- SKIN by Mo Hayder.

THE COLD ROOM by J.T. Ellison received the Best Paperback Original Novel award.

The other finalists in that category included:
- DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN by Robert Gregory Browne
- YOU CAN'T STOP ME by Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens
- TORN APART by Shane Gericke
- THE VENICE CONSPIRACY by Jon Trace

STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens received the Best First Novel award.

The other finalists in that category included:
- THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE by Carla Buckley
- THE POACHER'S SON by Paul Doiron
- THE INSIDER by Reece Hirsch
- DRINK THE TEA by Thomas Kaufman

"The Gods for Vengeance Cry" by Richard Helms from Dell Magazine won the Best Short Story award.

R L Stine received the ThrillerMaster Award.

Joe McGuiness received the True Thriller Award.

Karin Slaughter received the Silver Bullet Award.

For more information on the Thriller Awards or the International Thriller Writers, visit http://thrillerwriters.org.

The International Thriller Writers Awards are relatively new, having been around since only 2006. What follows is a list of the all-time winners.

2006
Thrillermaster: Clive Cussler
Best Novel: The Patriots Club by Christopher Reich
Best First Novel: Improbable by Adam Fawer
Best Paperback Original: Pride Runs Deep by R. Cameron Cooke
Best Screenplay: Caché (Hidden), Michael Haneke

2007
Thrillermaster: James Patterson
Best Novel: Killer Instinct by Joseph Finder
Best First Novel: Mr Clarinet by Nick Stone
Best Paperback Original: An Unquiet Grave by P.J. Parrish
Best Screenplay: The Good Shepherd by Eric Roth

2008
Thrillermaster: Sandra Brown
Best Novel: The Ghost by Robert Harris
Best First Novel: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Best Paperback Original: The Midnight Road by Tom Piccirilli
Silver Bullet Award: Macy's and David Baldacci

2009
Thrillermaster: David Morrell
Best Novel: The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver
Best First Novel: Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Best Short Story: The Edge of Seventeen by Alexandra Sokoloff
Silver Bullet Award: Brad Meltzer

2010
Thrillermaster: Ken Follett
Best Hard Cover Novel: Lisa Gardner by The Neighbor
Best Paperback Original Novel: Tom Piccirilli by The Coldest Mile
Best First Novel: Jamie Freveletti by Running from the Devil
Best Short Story: Twist Phelan, "A Stab in the Heart"
True Thrill Award: Mark Bowden
Silver Bullet Award: Linda Fairstein

In the end, how many of the books mentioned above have you read? Which did you like or dislike? Which would you recommend and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday, July 15, 2011

'The Bluejacket's Manual' will make you wish you'd joined the 'World's Greatest Navy'

I recently finished reading a very cool, non-fiction book that I’ve wanted to read for a while, “The Bluejacket’s Manual” by Thomas J. Cutler.

Those of you familiar with the U.S. Navy will probably be familiar with this book. It’s issued to all Navy recruits when they enter boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill. It’s not only considered a military classic, but it’s also best known for being a basic handbook for U.S. Navy personnel. Many refer to it as the “bible” for Navy seamen and airmen.

The copy that I read is the 23rd edition of the book, also known as the “Centennial Edition,” because it was published in 2002 by the Naval Institute Press, 100 years after the 1902 first edition. The late Lt. Ridley McLean wrote the original version of the book.

Cutler, who updated the book for a 24th edition that was released in 2009, enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17 in 1965. He retired in 1990 as a lieutenant commander after a career that included service in patrol craft, destroyers, aircraft carriers and a combat tour in Vietnam. He is the founder and former director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy in Baltimore, Md. He also taught seamanship, navigation, tactics, leadership and history for nine years at the U.S. Naval Academy. Since 1991, he’s taught strategy and policy at the Naval War College. He now works as the senior acquisitions editor at the U.S. Naval Institute. His other books include “Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal and Riverine Warfare in Vietnam” and “The Battle of Leyte Gulf: 23-26 October 1944.”

In enjoyed reading “The Bluejacket’s Manual” because I was interested in learning more about the U.S. Navy. A wide range of Navy topics were covered in this 647-page book, including Naval Missions and Heritage; Ranks, Rates, Ratings and Paygrades; Uniforms; Leadership, Discipline and Personal Relations; Courtesies, Customs and Ceremonies; Military Fundamentals; Security; Duty Assignments and Advancements; Navy Education and Training; Navy Pay and Benefits; Ship Construction; Ships and Aircraft; Ship and Squadron Organization; Weapons, Shipboard Life; Safety and Emergencies; Damage Control; Seamanship; Boats; Navigation; Communications; Health, Fitness and First Aid; Navy Organization; Navy History; Navigational Aids; Morse Code; Navy Flags and Pennants; Awards and Decorations; the Navy’s Service Song; and a Glossary of Navy Terms and Acronyms.

After buying my copy of “The Bluejacket’s Manual,” I learned that an updated 24th edition was released in May 2009, and it was also written by Cutler. If you plan to read this book, I recommend that you get the 24th edition because you could tell that the 23rd edition needed some updating. For example, there were more than a few references to the threat posed by Iraqi dictator Sadaam Hussein, who was put to death in 2006.

If you’ve read “The Bluejacket’s Manual” and enjoyed it, you might want to check out some of the other books published by the Naval Institute Press, which is the book-publishing arm of the U.S. Naval Institute. For a free catalog describing Naval Institute Press books currently available, visit www.navalinstitute.org.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

You asked the questions and the Magic Eight Ball answered...

It’s the second Thursday of the month, so what better time to whip out my Magic Eight Ball and ask it a few “yes or no” questions.

This month’s set of questions came to me via e-mail and Facebook. Below you’ll find the unedited questions and answers to the questions that I asked my Magic Eight Ball on Monday.

Connie asked: Will all five county commissioners be replaced in the next election?
A: Definitely.

Steve asked: Will the casino bribing crowd get convicted?
A: My sources say no.

Mark asked: Can a dog ride a bike?
A: Yes.

Michael asked: Is Spam really meat?
A: Outlook not so good.

Donna asked: Will we EVER have a woman as president?
A: Yes.

David asked: Will we hit the Florida Lottery?
A: Absolutely!

Donna asked: Will we ever wish we could go back to the world the way it was before 9/11 and Katrina?
A: Outlook not so good.

Marc asked: Will the SEC champ once again win the BCS Championship?
A: Outlook not so good.

Donna asked: Will your children be better informed and more skeptical than you were growing up?
A: Outlook not so good.

Ken asked: Will it rain any more, ever?
A: Yes.

Donna asked: Will the United States become like the Soviet Union and split up into city-states?
A: Definitely.

Tom asked: Is Derek Jeter the greatest New York Yankee ever?
A: No way!

I want to know if readers should take this week’s slate of answers seriously?
A: Maybe.

If you’ve got a question you want me to ask my Magic Eight Ball, e-mail it to me at courantsports@earthlink.net, and I’ll publish the answers in next week’s paper.

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In book-related news this week, Barnes & Noble released its Best Books of the Month lists. If you’re looking for a good book to read, you probably won’t go wrong in picking any of the books on this list.

Books that made the Best Books of the Month for Adults include:

- “Sex on the Moon” by Ben Mezrich
- “Stone Arabia” by Dana Spiotta
- “Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles
- “A Dance with Dragons” by George R.R. Martin
- “The Devil All the Time” by Donald Ray Pollock
- “The Sun’s Heartbeat” by Bob Berman
- “Conquistadora” by Esmeralda Santiago
- “Finding Everett Ruess” by David Roberts
- “Outlander” by Dianna Gabaldon
- “The Man of Numbers” by Keith Devlin
- “Ghost Story” by Jim Butcher
- “Fire Monks” by Colleen Morton

Books that made Barnes & Nobles’ Best Books of the Month for Kids and Teens include:

- “Skippyjon Jones, Class Action” by Judy Schachner
- “Crookedstar’s Promise” by Erin Hunter
- “Seventeen Ultimate Guide to Style” by Ann Shoket
- “Wolfsbane” by Andrea Cremer
- “Amelia Bedelia’s First Field Trip” by Herman Parish
- “Junonia” by Kevin Henkes
- “Spellbound” by Jacqueline West and “Supernaturally” by Kiersten White

There are several books on the above lists that I’d like to read, most notably Martin’s “A Dance With Dragons” and Butcher’s “Ghost Story.”

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for July 14, 2011

27 YEARS AGO
JULY 12, 1984

“These are the members of the Evergreen Little League All-Stars: Richard Melton, Keith Richardson, Broderick Gross, Bryan Garrett, Ryan Burt, Mickey Jones and Michael Floyd; Kevin Townson, Jamie Deason, Greg Stanton, Jamie Shipp, Scott Jones, Richard Byrd and Kenny Meeks, and Coaches Willie Byrd and Earnest Boykin.”

42 YEARS AGO
JULY 10, 1969

“Joe Brown successfully defended his championship in the Evergreen Golf Club’s annual club tournament, limited to members, held July 4. Joe had to get by two extra hole matches with Brown Boykin and Henry Kinzer to enter the finals where he defeated Bill Kitchens.
“Results by flights listing winner, runner-up and consolation winner follow:
Championship, Joe Brown, Bill Kitchens and Brown Boykin.
First Flight, Joe Nix, Benny Crum, Charles Lambert.
Second Flight, Randy Moorer, Bonnie King, Bob Smiley.
Third Flight, Eddie Thornley, Johnny Thornley, James Ansley.
Fourth Flight, Quinton Buras, Danny Petrey, Buddy Coleman.”

57 YEARS AGO
JULY 8, 1954

“A city softball league is in the process of organizing according to Recreation Director Bill Parsons. The league will probably have six teams and games will be played at night. The league is sponsored by the City Recreation Department and games will be played in Brooks Stadium.
“Coach Parsons states that so far five organizations have agreed to sponsor teams. Alma Martin Post 50 of the American Legion, Evergreen Junior Chamber of Commerce, Evergreen Equipment Co., The Spotlite and Southern Coach Manufacturing Co., Inc. have all agreed to enter teams.”

“A handicap tournament has been planned by the Evergreen Golf Club it is announced today by newly elected President C.T. Ivey. Mr. Ivey succeeded L.W. Price Jr. as head of the local golfer’s organization. Mr. Price had served as president for several years.
“To qualify for the tournament players should turn in their entry fee and post the score they usually shoot by noon, Monday, July 19, to any member of the tournament committee or at The Courant office. Committee members are Herman Bolden, G.L. Wilkinson, Bill Gibbons, J.H. Robison, P.L. Pace and Bob Bozeman. This committee will set handicaps from the scores turned in.”

72 YEARS AGO
JULY 13, 1939

“The local baseball team will meet the team from Atmore at Gantt Field next Sunday afternoon at 3:30. All baseball fans are urged to be on hand for what promises to be one of the best games of the season. Evergreen goes to Atmore for two games this (Thursday) afternoon.
“The locals staged a comeback in the game with Brewton here last Sunday afternoon by the one-sided score of 11 to 1.”

Compiled by Sports Reporter Lee Peacock from past issues of The Evergreen Courant. To read The Courant’s weekly Sports Flashback feature online, visit leepeacock2010.blogspot.com.