Monday, April 30, 2012

Yesterday's News from The Evergreen Courant for April 30, 2012

12 YEARS AGO
APRIL 27, 2000

“Mayor Lomax Cassady is shown holding the squirrel that caused a major power outage in Evergreen recently. This small critter found itself in a world of trouble when it entered the substation in the Industrial Park and subsequently blew all three fuses.”

“Project EverFUN kicked off this week with a ground-breaking ceremony on Monday afternoon in Evergreen Municipal Park. Mayor Lomax Cassady, Zebbie Nix and many other dignitaries of the community who contributed to the project were present. Cassady and Nix unearthed the first two shovelfuls of dirt and the work began.”

“Four Evergreen residents were stranded in the woods on the Sepulga River Monday night after having boat trouble.
“According to Sean Klaetsch, First Lt. of the Conecuh County Rescue Squad, Joseph (J.T. Coker, Chris Godwin, Bush Upton and Rhett Wilson left the Highway 84 bridge over the Sepulga River at approximately 4:30 p.m. with the aim of floating to Bull Slough Bridge. Klaetsch said the lost young men reported that a hole in their boat caused it to sink, leaving them stranded in the swamp.
“The Conecuh County Rescue Squad, Conecuh County Sheriff’s Department, Paul, Brownville and Herbert volunteer fire departments responded to the call that came in Monday night when the four did not return home.
“After a search of the river and surrounding swamp, beginning at the Highway 84 bridge, the lost men were recovered several miles downstream.”

27 YEARS AGO
APRIL 25, 1985

“Weatherman Earl Windham reports .62 inch of rain on April 15.”

“Steve Lancaster of Repton had the Reserve Champion of the Conecuh County Steer Show. The 1,140-pound steer sold for $1.28 per pound to the Conecuh-Monroe Counties Gas District, represented by Morgan Holley, for a total of $1,459.20.”

“David Lancaster of Repton exhibited the Grand Champion of the 40th annual Conecuh County Steer Show here Monday. First Alabama Bank of Conecuh County, represented by Tom Salo, paid $1.50 per pound for the 1,230-pound champion, a total of $1,845.00.”

“A delegation of the Alabama Farm Bureau Federation recently visited Washington, D.C. Shown above with Congressman Bill Dickinson are John Cook and James Cook of Conecuh County. Dickinson talked to the members of the Bureau about the 1985 Farm Bill, which is up for renewal this year, and major agriculture concerns in the Second Congressional District.”

“EX-PRISONERS OF WAR: Ex-Prisoners of War in Alabama will hold their first annual convention on May 25 at the Governors House Motel, Montgomery. For details, contact W.E. Davis, 404 Walker St., Prattville, AL 36067.”

42 YEARS AGO
APRIL 30, 1970

“The Evergreen City Council approved the installation of street lights on Pierce Street at its meeting Tuesday night. The lights will be spaced on other city streets, one on every fourth pole.
“The Council also approved the ‘911’ emergency telephone number. As soon as Southern Bell Telephone Co. can make the necessary adjustments to local equipment this number will be used in any emergency, fire, police, etc.”

“Ernest Shipp received a record 70 cents per pound for this Grand Champion at the Fat Calf Show here Monday. Flxible Southern Co. represented by General Manager Lester Roach purchased the calf.”

“Robber injures Byron Warren Jr. during robbery: An unidentified man attacked the night manager of a service station Monday night and robbed the station of something over $100.
“Byron Warren Jr., night manager of Holley’s Interstate Gulf Station, suffered severe head cuts and was hospitalized following the attack.
“The attack took place around midnight Monday. Warren was alone at the station when the man came up on foot and asked for change for the cigarette machine. While Warren was at the cash register making change, the man attacked him from behind.
“The two then engaged in a struggle in the station and finally Warren was knocked through a plate glass door, head first, and suffered the cuts which knocked him out of the fight. The robber cleaned out the cash register and fled on foot.”

57 YEARS AGO
APRIL 28, 1955

“Legion Auxiliary Was Formed Here Recently: On April 18, a group of the wives of members of Alma Martin Post No. 50, the Conecuh County American Legion post, met and organized a Ladies’ Auxiliary with the purpose of helping the post with its building program and other activities.”

“A2-C James R. Bolton, familiarly known to his friends here as Bobby Bolton, was recently awarded the Vandenberg Honor Flight Certificate in recognition of his superior teaching ability, his devotion to duty and his outstanding qualities of leadership.
“He enlisted in the Air Force April 24, 1954 and is stationed at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas. He is attending Officers Candidate School at night and will receive a commission when his course is completed.”

“1,016 County Children Get Shots Last Week: ‘Operation Shot’ was a big success in Conecuh County last week when about 1,016 first and second grade children were given the Salk Vaccine, Miss Ethel Coleman, Conecuh County Health Nurse, said today. Most all the children thought there wasn’t much to it – just like a mosquito bite and it was all over.”

“Castleberry Swimming Pool Will Open Soon: The water is expected to be turned on and the Castleberry swimming poll will soon be open to the public, A.T. Weaver, Castleberry town clerk, said today. Folks down this way are proud of their swimming pool, for not every town this size has such a civic asset, he said.”

72 YEARS AGO
APRIL 25, 1940

“Mr. and Mrs. Robert Glass, Miss Ernestine Evers and Paul Tranum attended ‘Gone With The Wind’ in Monroeville Sunday.”

“Among those who attended ‘Gone With The Wind’ in Georgiana Monday were Mrs. J.S. Thornley, Mrs. H.C. Fountain, Mrs. J.C. Hamilton, Mrs. Grady Moorer and Misses Annie and Demoval Hagood.”

“Miss Lois Griffin, Miss Clarice Barfield, Byron Johnston and Woodford Bolton attended ‘Gone With The Wind’ in Monroeville Sunday.”

“W.R. Ramer, supervisor of road between Evergreen and the county line, was seriously burned when the gas in his car ignited burning his car and him last Wednesday. He was carried to St. Margarets Hospital in Montgomery where his condition remains critical.”

“Pix Announces Third Anniversary Program: A special program for the observance of the Pix Theatre’s third anniversary on Fri., April 26, was announced this week by Manager Haywood Hanna.
“On the screen that day will be seen ‘The Farmer’s Daughter,’ starring Comedienne Martha Raye, that promises fine entertainment.
“The lobby of the Pix will be beautifully decorated with flowers by the Evergreen Garden Clubs, which will add greatly to the occasion. Refreshments will be served without charge to the general public all during the day.”

Daily Weather Observations for Mon., April 30, 2012

Temp: 63.7 degrees F (17.6 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 81 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Partly Cloudy, Foggy.

Winds: 0.0 mph. (Calm)

Barometric Pressure: 29.65 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.1 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 25.2 inches

Local Weather Alerts: None.

NOTES: Today is the 121st day of 2012 and the 42nd day of Spring. There are 245 days left in the year. Today is the last day of turkey season across Alabama.

And Remember - "A sunshiny shower won't last half an hour."

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

'The Innocent' takes over top spot on fiction 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, there is only one new book at the top of the four major best-sellers lists this week.

“The Innocent” by David Baldacci replaced "Calico Joe" by John Grisham as the No. 1 book on the hardcover fiction best-sellers list.

"Drift" by Rachel Maddow retained its place as the top book on the hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list for the fourth week in a row.

"The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks retained its place as the top book on the mass market paperback best-sellers list for the fifth straight week.

"Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James retained its place atop the trade paperbacks best-sellers list for the third week in a row.

There are four 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 Innocent” by David Baldacci (1), “The Witness” by Nora Roberts (2), “Unnatural Acts” by Stuart Woods (4) and “What Doesn't Kill You” by Iris Johansen (7).

There are five books on this week’s hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They include “Let's Pretend That This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson (2), “The Presidents Club” by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy (5), “By Invitation Only” by Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson (8), “Reverse Innovation” by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble (13) and “Get Lucky” by Thor Muller and Lane Becker (14).

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 Girl Who Played with Fire” by Stieg Larsson (11), “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson (14) and “Dead Reckoning” by Charlaine Harris (15).

There are three books on this week’s trade paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They include “Fifty Shades Darker” by E.L. James (2), “Fifty Shades Freed” by E.L. James (3) and “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” by Steve Harvey (8).

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. The Innocent by David Baldacci
2. The Witness by Nora Roberts
3. Calico Joe by John Grisham
4. Unnatural Acts by Stuart Woods
5. Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis
6. The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark
7. What Doesn't Kill You by Iris Johansen
8. Come Home by Lisa Scottoline
9. The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
10. Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
11. The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith
12. Stay Close by Harlan Coben
13. Betrayal by Danielle Steel
14. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
15. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. Drift by Rachel Maddow
2. Let's Pretend That This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
3. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier by Ree Drummond
4. Imagine by Jonah Lehrer
5. The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy
6. The Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hyman, M.D
7. The Big Miss by Hank Haney
8. By Invitation Only by Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
9. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
10. Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin
11. Let It Go by T.D. Jakes
12. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
13. Reverse Innovation by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble
14. Get Lucky by Thor Muller and Lane Becker
15. A Natural Woman by Carole King

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
2. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
3. The Affair by Lee Child
4. I'll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
5. The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
6. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
7. Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts
8. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
9. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
10. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
11. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
12. A Turn in the Road by Debbie Macomber
13. The Devil Colony by James Rollins
14. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
15. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
2. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
4. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
5. Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
6. Bossypants by Tina Fey
7. Zero Day by David Baldacci
8. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey
9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
10. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
11. The Magic by Rhonda Byrne
12. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
13. The Vow by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter with Dana Wilkerson
14. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
15. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

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.

Daily Weather Observations for Sun., April 29, 2012

Temp: 59.4 degrees F (15.2 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 81 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Foggy.

Winds: 0.0 mph. (Calm)

Barometric Pressure: 29.67 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.1 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 25.2 inches

Local Weather Alerts: None.

NOTES: Today is the 120th day of 2012 and the 41st day of Spring. There are 246 days left in the year. First Quarter Moon.

And Remember - "Expect the weather to be fair when crows fly in pairs."

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

1951's 'The Thing From Another World' was forerunner to 1982, 2011 movies

Two weeks ago, in a post on April 14, I wrote about how much I enjoyed watching the 2011 science fiction-horror movie, “The Thing,” which is actually a prequel to one of my favorite all-time movies, 1982’s “The Thing.” I made mention of the fact that both of these movies are based on a 1938 science fiction novella called “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr.

While researching all of that, I learned that Campbell’s novella was also adapted into another movie, 1951’s “The Thing From Another World.” I’d never seen this old movie, so I put it at the top of my NetFlix queue and finally got the chance to watch it just the other day. I was not disappointed.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with “The Thing” movies, they’re about a group of military officials and scientists who find a crashed alien aircraft that’s been trapped in ice for thousands of years. They eventually stumble upon an alien who’s frozen in ice outside the ship and they take him back to their base for examination. The alien eventually escapes, begins to cause havoc and has to be dealt with by the humans.

Listed at No. 274 on Fangoria magazine’s list of “300 Best Horror Films,” “The Thing From Another World” was directed by Christian Nyby and Howard Hanks. The cast included Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, James Young, Dewey Martin, Robert Nichols, William Self, Eduard Franz, Sally Creighton and James Arness.

Arness, who is best known for his role as Matt Dillon on the TV series “Gunsmoke,” played the role of “The Thing” in “The Thing From Another World.” Those of you who have seen the 1982 and 2011 movies will know that the “monster” was a shape-shifting alien, but “The Thing” in the 1951 film more closely resembled Frankenstein’s monster.

One big difference in the modern movies and the 1951 movie is the setting. The 1982 and 2011 movies were set in Antarctica, whereas the 1951 movie is set in the Artic, that is, on the opposite end of the planet. Interestingly, according to the Internet Movie Database, portions of the 1951 movie were filmed in Montana’s Glacier National Park, a Los Angeles ice storage plant and at the RKO Ranch in the San Fernando Valley in 100-degree weather.

This movie has been hailed as an influential classic for years. Directors John Carpenter, Ridley Scott and others have said that the movie had a big influence on their lives and careers. Five decades after the film’s original release, in 2001, the U.S. Library of Congress also selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry.

In the end, I got a big kick out of this movie, and I hope to read Campbell’s novella very soon. How many of you have watched “The Thing From Another World” or have read Campbell’s novella? What did you think about it? Did you like it or dislike it? Why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Daily Weather Observations for Sat., April 28, 2012

Temp: 60.8 degrees F (16.0 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 82 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Foggy.

Winds: 0.0 mph. (Calm)

Barometric Pressure: 29.59 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.1 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 25.2 inches

Local Weather Alerts: None.

NOTES: Today is the 119th day of 2012 and the 40th day of Spring. There are 247 days left in the year.

And Remember - "A wind in the south has rain in her mouth."

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level.

Friday, April 27, 2012

'A Bridge to Light' is standard issue for all new Scottish Rite Masons

Earlier this year, in a post on Jan. 2, I published a bucket list of things I’d like to accomplish at some point in my life. No. 16 on that list was to join the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and to attain the 32nd degree. I scratched that item off my bucket list earlier this year when I officially became a member the Montgomery, Ala. Scottish Rite Valley and attained the 32nd Masonic degree on March 3.

One of the coolest things about joining the Scottish Rite is that, upon your initiation, you’re given a paperback copy of a book called “A Bridge to Light: A Study in Masonic Ritual and Philosophy” by Dr. Rex R. Hutchens. I finished reading this excellent book the other day, and when I was done, I immediately wanted to read it all over again.

First published by the Supreme Council, 33° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, in 1988 and now in its fourth edition, this 343-page book serves as an introduction to the Scottish Rite’s degrees and symbolism. The book summarizes each degree and is based on Albert Pike’s Masonic classic, “Morals and Dogma.”

(New Scottish Rite Masons are also given a very nice copy of Pike’s book, but I’ve yet to read that one. It’s 1,112 pages long and is staring me down from a spot on my desk as I type this.)

Hutchens, who is a 33° Scottish Rite Mason, is considered to be one of the Scottish Rite’s “most articulate philosophers and writers.” A native of Oregon and a U.S. Army veteran, he is a Past Grand Master of Masons in Arizona. He has a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh and has a master’s degree in Oriental Studies from the University of Arizona. He has been a Mason since 1982.

In addition to “A Bridge to Light,” his other books include the following titles “The Bible in Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma: A Glossary to Morals and Dogma” (1992), “Pillars of Wisdom: The Writings of Albert Pike” (1995) and “Lecture on Masonic Symbolism and a Second Lecture on Symbolism: The Omkara and Other Ineffable Words” (2007). He actually coauthored “The Bible in Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma” with D.W. Monson, and his 2007 book is an annotated edition of a work originally written by Pike.

For non-Masons in the reading audience, some of you might find this book very interesting while others might not be able to make much sense of it. A careful reading of the book by non-Masons, however, might kindle an interest in you to learn more about “the world’s oldest fraternity,” and it could even change your life. Then again, it might leave you scratching your head and reaching for your dog-eared copy of “The Lost Symbol.”

In the end, I really enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading it again. How many of you have ever read (or even heard of this book)? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below.

Daily Weather Observations for Fri., April 27, 2012

Temp: 64.2 degrees F (17.9 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 83 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Foggy.

Winds: 0.0 mph. (Calm)

Barometric Pressure: 29.59 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.1 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 25.2 inches

Local Weather Alerts: None.

NOTES: Today is the 118th day of 2012 and the 39th day of Spring. There are 248 days left in the year.

And Remember - "If clouds move against the wind, rain will follow."

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Were Southwest Alabama 'mystery booms' caused by exploding meteors?

It’s been several months since I’ve written about the unusual “mystery booms,” which were first reported in our area last November and were last reportedly heard in late January.

For those of you unfamiliar with the local “mystery boom” phenomenon, a number of extremely loud, unexplained “booms” were reported across Southwest Alabama for a period of about three months. Numerous theories were offered to explain the unusual noises, but no definite answers were ever found. Theories varied and include the off-burning of oil rigs, pranksters with homemade cannons, seismographic testing, high-speed naval aircraft, UFOs and meteorites. No evidence was found to support any of those theories.

I hadn’t thought much about the “mystery booms” since late January, but on Monday, I saw a story in the Mobile Press-Register that brought it all back to mind. The Associated Press story, under the headline “Explosion, fireball rattle the West; likely a meteor,” was datelined Reno, Nev.

The story detailed a Sunday incident in which a loud explosion was heard across much of Nevada and California. It rattled homes and prompted a flood of calls to law enforcement agencies. No damages or injuries were immediately reported, but witnesses said the incident caused shades to slam into windows, made babies cry and knocked a woman off her feet. There were no reports of earthquakes at that time of the incident.

Some witnesses also reported seeing a brilliant light streak across the sky at the time, and reported sightings of the fireball occurred over a 600-mile line across the two states.

Astronomers said that the explosion and fireball were likely caused by a meteor that entered the Earth’s atmosphere. They believe the “mysterious light” was a fireball, that is, a very bright meteor. One astronomer – Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society - said that fireballs occur all the time, but most occur in the daytime and can’t be seen. For a fireball to have been seen in the daylight, it would have had to have been extremely bright, he said.

Lunsford noted that its “pretty rare” for fireballs to produce a loud explosion. For that to happen, Lunsford explained, the meteor would have to have been large enough to remain intact before breaking up five miles above the earth. The noise may also indicate that some fragments may have reached the ground, he said.

I thought this story was interesting because it provided more details about a possible cause of the “booms” heard across Southwest Alabama several months ago. All along, I’ve been of the opinion that the “mystery booms” were the result of military jets causing sonic booms during high-speed flight training maneuvers. However, I’ve kept an open mind about the situation and think it’s interesting that a rash of exploding meteors may have caused the booms.

In the end, I welcome your thoughts on the subject. Readers with theories, accounts or ideas regarding the “mystery booms” in our area are invited to contact The Courant at 251-578-1492 or by email at courantsports@earthlink.net. To contact The Courant by mail, write The Evergreen Courant, ATTN: Lee Peacock, P.O. Box 440, Evergreen, AL 36401.

Alabama, Auburn fans have good reason to tune into NFL draft

Alabama and Auburn football fans will have good reason to tune into the NFL draft this week as a number of former players from both schools will be up for selection by NFL teams.

Draft eligible players from both schools include Alabama safety Mark Barron, Alabama defensive tackle Josh Chapman, Auburn outside linebacker Eltoro Freeman, Alabama wide receiver Darius Hanks, Alabama outside linebacker Jerrell Harris, Auburn long-snapper Josh Harris, Alabama inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower, Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama wide receiver Marquis Maze, Alabama guard Alfred McCullough, Alabama cornerback DeQuan Menzie, Auburn offensive tackle Brandon Mosley, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Alabama fullback Brad Smelley, Auburn free safety Neiko Thorpe, Auburn quarterback Barrett Trotter, Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw and Alabama center William Vlachos.

Troy University players in the mix include Troy offensive guard James Brown, Troy offensive guard Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy punter Will Goggans and Troy quarterback Jamie Hampton.

The first-round of the draft will be held today (Thursday) with the second and third rounds to be selected on Friday at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds will be selected on Saturday.

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The NBA playoffs are set to start on Saturday and as of Monday seven of the eight playoff spots in each division had been decided.

Teams from the Eastern Conference that made the playoff cut included Boston, New York, Miami, Atlanta, Orlando, Chicago and Indiana. Teams from the Western Conference included San Antonio, Memphis, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Denver, the L.A. Lakers and the L.A. Clippers.

Boston, Miami, Chicago, San Antonio and Oklahoma City clinched their divisions this season. Only the Western Conference’s Pacific Division champion and last two playoff teams from each conference remained to be decided.

Chicago and Miami look strongest among Eastern Conference teams, and San Antonio and Oklahoma City appear to be the front-runners in the Western Conference.

At this point, I look for Miami to win the East, and for San Antonio to win the West with Miami to win it all in The Finals.

With that said, we’ll have to wait a while to see if I’m right. The NBA playoffs are notoriously long. The first round starts this weekend and the last possible date for the NBA Finals will fall on June 26. That’s a grand total of 59 days, that is, a little over eight weeks.

----- 0 -----

The past week’s selection of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! cartoons didn’t disappoint when it comes to sports-related subjects.

Saturday’s edition included an item about a 1946 boxing match in which Rocky Marciano knocked Carmine Vingo into a coma. Marciano paid Vingo’s medical bills and swore that he would never fight again if Vingo were to die. He recovered and Marciano went on to become heavyweight champion.

Last Thursday’s cartoon said that more than 400 people entered a Jan. 29, 2012 ice fishing tournament in Escanaba, Michigan and a single 4.5-ounce perch was the only catch made.

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for April 26, 2012

15 YEARS AGO
APRIL 24, 1997

“Track meet held recently at Monroe: Results of the Monroe County track meet held Tues., April 18, 1997 were as follows:
“Team results: Girls: Coffeeville, 54 points, first place; Hillcrest, 45 points, second place…
“Boys: T.R. Miller, 106 points, first place; Hillcrest, 20 points, second place…
“Individual results:
“3200 m: Jason Johnson, fifth place.
“400 m relay: Kristie Merrills, Elena King, Willene Cook and Stephanie Rogers, first place; Tim George, Ryan Meeks, Tyrone Presley and Roderick Rogers, second place.
“3200 m relay: ShuRhonda Bradley, Teresa McMillian, Willene Cook and Denise Mitchell, first place; Robert Johnson, Derrick Lyons, James Hall and Kelvin Fluker, third place.
“400 m relay: Willene Cook, third place; Marie Batchen, fifth place; April Canty, sixth place.
“100 m: Elena King, first place; Tyrone Presley, fifth place.
“800 m: Willene Cook, third place; Teresa McMillian, fourth place.
“200 m: Elena King, third place; Tyrone Presley, fifth place.
“1600 m: Willene Cook, April Canty, Kristie Merrills and Denise Mitchell, second place; Derrick Lyons, Allen Marshall, James Hall and Tim George, second place.”
30 YEARS AGO
APRIL 22, 1982

“Warriors win one, lose one: The Sparta Academy Warriors ‘batted .500’ last week, winning one and losing one, according to Sports Information Director Byron Warren Jr.
“Sparta beat South Butler, 12-2, on April 13 behind the four-hit pitching of Joe McInvale and a 10-hit assault led by Mike Mixon with three hits and Ed Carrier with two.
“Thursday of last week the Warriors proved generous hosts as the pitchers gave up 13 hits and the fielders committed four errors in a 11-3 loss to Escambia Academy of Atmore. Mike Mixon got credit for the loss, but joined Joe McInvale in collecting two hits to account for over half of Sparta’s seven-hit attack.
“Russ Raines is hitting .429 and Mike Mixon .425 to lead the Warriors in batting averages. Ed Carrier is hitting .367, Chris Blatz .310 and Joe McInvale .308.”

“Bill Seales (retired from everything but fun) of Castleberry says real wild turkey hunters don’t get older, they just get better. He killed this fine 17-pounder, 9-1/2 inch beard and 1/2-inch spurs on Friday.”

60 YEARS AGO
APRIL 24, 1952

“Bermuda Bears Edge Castleberry 7 to 6: The Bermuda Bears edged the Castleberry nine 7 to 6 Sunday afternoon at Bermuda in a Conecuh Amateur League opener. Carl Watson with two hits, one a triple, paced Bermuda’s 17-hit barrage. Pitcher Allen Thompson also had three safe knocks.
“Frank Shields, Lee Owen Dees and Gandy with two hits each topped the Castleberry batters. One of Gandy’s knocks was a homer.
“The Castleberry battery was J.W. Windham, pitcher, and Ralph Graddy, catcher. The winning Bermuda battery was Thompson and G.W. Watson.”

“The Centerville Rookies blasted Loree’s Dollies 20 to 1 Sunday afternoon in Brooks Stadium in Evergreen as they open the 1952 season behind some of the most amazing pitching ever served up in South Alabama. George ‘One-Man Team’ Gaston struck out 22 batters and was credited with four assists to have a personal hand in all but one out in the regulation, nine-inning game.
“Gaston scattered seven hits and walked only one Dollie. Statisticians are searching the records and old timers are scratching their heads trying to remember, has this pitching performance ever been topped in Conecuh County?”

75 YEARS AGO
APRIL 22, 1937

From news from Evergreen High School – “Tuesday morning we were very glad to have ‘Shorty’ Propst, a former Alabama football star, visit us. Coach Propst was in search of future football material for Memphis college.”

“Bulldogs Lose to Georgiana, 14 to 4: Georgiana High defeated the Evergreen Hi Bulldogs last Friday afternoon by a score of 14 to 4 on the Georgiana diamond.
“Jim Lane, starting Bulldog hurler, was wild and inefficient, and his mates’ bobbles added to the rout of the locals.”

“Robert Kendall Jr. of Evergreen resigned as president of the new Interstate Baseball League at a meeting held in Brewton last night, being succeeded by James McCurdy Jr. of Flomaton.
“C.R. James of Evergreen was elected league statistician, and William N. McGehee treasurer at Wednesday night’s meeting.
“Practice sessions by the local club are to be held beginning late this week at Gantt Field and all residents of Conecuh County who desire to participate in baseball this summer are urged to contact Mack Binion Jr. or Cumbie Snowden, so that the roster may be prepared in time for submission to the league office.”

Daily Weather Observations for Thurs., April 26, 2012

Temp: 64.2 degrees F (17.9 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 82 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Partly Cloudy.

Winds: 0.0 mph. (Calm)

Barometric Pressure: 29.57 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.1 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 25.2 inches

Local Weather Alerts: Local Pollen Alert in effect.

NOTES: Today is the 117th day of 2012 and the 38th day of Spring. There are 249 days left in the year.

And Remember - "If birds fly low, expect rain and a blow."

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

This week's movie picks are 'The Raven' and 'The Innkeepers'

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:

96 Minutes (Drama, Suspense, R): Directed by Aimee Lagos and starring Brittany Snow, Christian Serratos, Evan Ross, David Oyelowo and Elena Varela.

Bernie (Comedy, Crime, PG-13): Directed by Richard Linklater and starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConqughey, Rick Dial and Gary Teague.

Citizen Gangster (Crime, Drama): Directed by Nathan Morlando and starring Scott Speedman, Kelly Reilly, Kevin Durand, Joseph Cross and William Mapother.

The Five-Year Entanglement (Comedy, Romance, R): Directed by Nick Stoller and starring Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie and Rhys Ifans.

The Giant Mechanical Man (Comedy, Drama, PG-13): Directed by Lee Kirk and starring Jenna Fischer, Chris Messina, Topher Grace, Malin Akerman and Lucy Punch.

Headhunters (Action, Crime, R): Directed by Morten Tyldum and starring Aksel Hennie, Synnove Macody Lund, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Julie R. Olgaard and Kyrre Haugen Sydness.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Family, Comedy, PG): Directed by Peter Lord and starring the voices of Hugh Grant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Martin Freeman and David Tennant.

The Raven (Suspense, Mystery, R): Directed by James McTeigue and starring John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson and Pam Ferris.

Restless City (Drama, R): Directed by Andrew Dosunmu and starring Herve Diese, Mohamed Dione, Ger Duany, Khadra Dumar and Sky Grey.

Safe (Action, Suspense, R): Directed by Boaz Yakin and starring Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon, Robert John Burke and Reggie Lee.

New DVD releases for the week of April 24 include:

Albatross (Drama, Not Rated): Directed Niall MacCormick and starring Felicity Jones, Jessica Brown Findlay, Sebastian Koch and Julia Ormond.

Contraband (Action, Suspense, R): Directed by Baltasar Kormakur and starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi and J.K. Simmons.

Dark Tide (Suspense, Adventure, PG-13): Directed by John Stockwell and starring Halle Berry, Olivier Martinez, Ralph Brown, Luke Tyler and Thoko Ntshinga.

The Innkeepers (Horror, Suspense, R): Directed by Ti West and starring Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis, George Riddle and Alison Bartlett.

Let the Bullets Fly (Action, Comedy, Not Rated): Directed by Jiang Wen and starring Chow Yun-Fat, Jian Wen and Ge You.

Return (Drama): Directed by Liza Johnson and starring Linda Cardellini, Michael Shannon, John Slattery, Talia Balsam and Emma Rayne Lyle.

Reuniting the Rubins (Comedy, Drama, PG): Directed by Yoav Factor and starring Timothy Spall, Rhona Mitra, James Callis, Blake Harrison and Honor Blackman.

The Wicker Tree (Drama, Horror, R): Directed by Robin Hardy and starring Christopher Lee, Graham McTavish, Honeysuckle Weeks, Clive Russell and Jacqueline Leonard.

If I could only watch one movie at the theatre this week, it would be “The Raven,” and if I had to pick just one DVD to rent this week, it would be “The Innkeepers.”

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.

Daily Weather Observations for Wed., April 25, 2012

Temp: 61.3 degrees F (16.3 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 74 percent (Normal)

Conditions: Clear.

Winds: 0.1 mph out of the West-Southwest. (Calm)

Barometric Pressure: 29.55 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.1 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 25.2 inches

Local Weather Alerts: Local Pollen Alert in effect.

NOTES: Today is the 116th day of 2012 and the 37th day of Spring. There are 250 days left in the year.

And Remember - "Evening red and morning gray, two sure signs of one fine day."

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2012 Hugo Award nominees announced by World Science Fiction Society

The nominees for this year’s slate of Hugo Awards were recently announced by the World Science Fiction Society, and five outstanding books are up for the 2012 Hugo for Best Novel. The winners will be announced on Sept. 3 in Chicago.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Hugo Awards, they have been given each year since 1953 by the World Science Fiction Society to recognize the best sci-fi and fantasy works from the previous year.

Novels nominated for this year’s Best Novel Award include the following books:

- “Among Others” by Jo Walton

- “A Dance With Dragons” by George R. R. Martin

- “Deadline” by Mira Grant

- “Embassytown” by China MiĆ©ville

- “Leviathan Wakes” by James S. A. Corey

The Best Novel Award is arguably the most prestigious of all the Hugo Awards, and the winner of this year’s award will join a long list of classic science fiction and fantasy works. What follows is a complete list of the all-time winners.

1953 – “The Demolished Man” by Alfred Bester
1954 – No Award
1955 – “They’d Rather Be Right” by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley
1956 – “Double Star” by Robert A. Heinlein
1957 – No Award
1958 – “The Big Time” by Fritz Leiber
1959 – “A Case of Conscience” by James Blish
1960 – “Starship Troopers” by Robert A. Heinlein
1961 – “A Canticle for Leibowitz” by Walter M. Miller Jr.
1962 – “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert A. Heinlein
1963 – “The Man in the High Castle” by Philip K. Dick
1964 – “Here Gather the Stars” by Clifford D. Simak
1965 – “The Wanderer” by Fritz Leiber
1966 (tie) – “Dune” by Frank Herbert and “…And Call Me Conrad” by Roger Zelazny
1967 – “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert A. Heinlein
1968 – “Lord of Light” by Roger Zelazny
1969 – “Stand on Zanzibar” by John Brunner
1970 – “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin
1971 – “Ringworld” by Larry Niven
1972 – “To Your Scattered Bodies Go” by Philip Jose Farmer
1973 – “The Gods Themselves” by Isaac Asimov
1974 – “Rendezvous with Rama” by Arthur C. Clarke
1975 – “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K. Le Guin
1976 – “The Forever War” by Joe Haldeman
1977 – “Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang” by Kate Wilhelm
1978 – “Gateway” by Frederik Pohl
1979 – “Dreamsnake” by Vonda N. McIntyre
1980 – “The Fountains of Paradise” by Arthur C. Clarke
1981 – “The Snow Queen” by Joan D. Vinge
1982 – “Downbelow Station” by C.J. Cherryh
1983 – “Foundation’s Edge” by Isaac Asimov
1984 – “Startide Rising” by David Brin
1985 – “Neuromancer” by William Gibson
1986 – “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card
1987 – “Speaker for the Dead” by Orson Scott Card
1988 – “The Uplift War” by David Brin
1989 – “Cyteen” by C.J. Cherryh
1990 – “Hyperion” by Dan Simmons
1991 – “The Vor Game” by Lois McMaster Bujold
1992 – “Barrayar” by Lois McMaster Bujold
1993 (tie) – “A Fire Upon the Deep” by Vernon Vinge and “Doomsday Book” by Connie Willis
1994 – “Green Mars” by Kim Stanley Robinson
1995 – “Mirror Dance” by Lois McMaster Bujold
1996 – “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson
1997 – “Blue Mars” by Kim Stanley Robinson
1998 – “Forever Peace” by Joe Haldeman
1999 – “To Say Nothing of the Dog” by Connie Willis
2000 – “A Deepness in the Sky” by Vernor Vinge
2001 – “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by J.K. Rowling
2002 – “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman
2003 – “Hominids” by Robert J. Sawyer
2004 – “Paladin of Souls” by Lois McMaster Bujold
2005 – “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” by Susanna Clarke
2006 – “Spin” by Robert Charles Wilson
2007 – “Rainbows End” by Vernor Vinge
2008 – “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” by Michael Chabon
2009 – “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman
2010 (tie) – “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi and “The City & the City” by China Mieville
2011 – “Blackout/All Clear” by Connie Willis

In addition to the Best Novel Award, Hugos will be presented this year in 16 other categories, including Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, Best Graphic Story, Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form), Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), Best SemiProzine, Best Fanzine, Best Fancast, Best Editor (Long Form), Best Editor (Short Form), Best Professional Artist, Best Fan Artist, Best Fan Writer and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

For the full list of nominees in the other categories, visit http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/2012-hugo-awards/.

For more information, visit the official Web site of the Hugo Awards, http://www.thehugoawards.org/.

Daily Weather Observations for Tues., April 24, 2012

Temp: 51.3 degrees F (10.7 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 74 percent (Normal)

Conditions: Clear.

Winds: 0.1 mph out of the West-Northwest. (Calm)

Barometric Pressure: 29.59 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.1 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 25.2 inches

Local Weather Alerts: Local Pollen Alert in effect.

NOTES: Today is the 115th day of 2012 and the 36th day of Spring. There are 251 days left in the year.

And Remember - "When the dew is on the grass, rain will never come to pass."

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level.

Monday, April 23, 2012

FICTION - The Safe - Part II

I was exhausted. I’d been awake for over 24 hours without so much as a nap, and it was time to report to the office for the nightshift at the paper. I was running on fumes and sore from getting run off the road earlier in the night. I should have gone to the ER to get checked out, but I didn’t have the money for the co-pay.

There was still no word on who ran me off the road, and when I told the Sheriff that my camera’d been stolen, he just grunted, turned around and walked off. Johnny pulled me out of the ditch for free, and my vehicle was still drivable despite a few fresh dents.

I pulled a caffeine pill out of my pants pocket, pushed it into my mouth and let it dissolve on my tongue. It was way faster than a cup of coffee, and I felt better a few minutes later when my desk phone rang. It was Sheriff Abberline on the other end.

“McMorn, I need you over at the jail,” he said. “Bring your camera. The locksmith’s on his way. I need you to get shots of the safe’s interior as it’s opened to document what we find inside.”

I had work to do and couldn’t spend all night at the jail. “I can’t, Sheriff,” I began. “I’m tied up now at the office. I’ve got a mountain of stuff on my desk that I need to tend to before deadline.”

“Tend to me first,” he said. “Or I’ll give the story to one of the dayshift boys. It’s up to you. It don’t matter to me.” With that, he hung up the phone.

I considered the situation for a moment then walked to my editor’s office. He was behind his desk, his face a pale blue in the light of his computer screen. I rapped on his door to get his attention.

“What up?” he said, not looking away from his computer.

“The Sheriff just called,” I said. “He’s got something for me over at the jail, something he thinks we’ll be interested in. I think they busted somebody for drugs.”

“Sounds good,” he said. “Let me know when you get more details. The front section goes to press in three hours.”

I glanced at my wristwatch. It was a few minutes after midnight. I walked downstairs and out the front door. I hooked a left, set off down the sidewalk and then made another left onto Jackson Street. From there, it was two blocks to Claiborne City Jail. A yellow security light illuminated one side of the jail, and, even at this hour, a few inmates stood at their cell windows, soaking in the striped moonlight. Aside from myself, the street was deserted, and they saw me from a mile way.

“Hey, reportermaaaaaaan…” one of them called, his voice carrying longer than it should have over the quiet city streets. “Ain’t no story for you here tonight, reporterman. You just gonna get hurt you come in here tonight.”

I was closer now, and I could tell that the voice came from a faceless shadow at a third-story window. I had no idea who this guy was and chances were better than even that I’d written about whatever crime had landed him behind bars. I made out like I hadn’t heard what he’d had to say.

I passed through the jail’s main entrance and walked to the front desk. A uniformed female deputy sat there behind about four inches of bulletproof glass. I’d never seen her before, so I pulled out my press ID and pressed it against the glass for her to examine.

She leaned forward, squinted her eyes at the ID and then pressed the transmit button of the intercom that sat in front of her on the counter. “What do you want?” her voice said through a round speaker set in the thick glass.

“The Sheriff asked me to come around and meet with a locksmith.”

She picked up a clipboard, made a quick note with a pen and pressed a button that released the electric lock on a thick steel door to my right. Taped at eye level on the door, just below a large “No Smoking” sign was another sign – “Crime Doesn’t Pay, Hard Work Does.”

I pulled the heavy door open and stepped into the jail proper. A large deputy – his badge said his last name was Poe – stepped out of a side office. “You McMorn?” he asked.

I nodded.

“Then you no the drill, right?”

“Yep.”

“You ain’t got no contraband on you, do you?”

“Nothing but whiskey and cigarettes,” I said with a grin.

Poe didn’t smile, but pointed to a door at the far end of the hall. “Locksmith’s in there,” he said.

I walked down the hall and was surprised to see that the door actually led into the Sheriff’s personal office. I knocked on the door and the muffled voice of a man answered from inside. “Come in.”

I stepped inside and saw a short, fat man examining the safe that had been pulled from the creek only hours before. It looked at home in the office, which was full of all manner of items that were obviously connected with numerous ongoing cases being worked by Sheriff’s investigators. Beneath a large poster of a young Clint Eastwood, there was a stack of shotguns and rifles, which wasn’t far from a mound of brown paper sacks labeled with yellow sticky notes.

On the other side of the room, there was an impressive, hanging display of law enforcement uniform patches, which were affixed to a pair of large, felt-covered pieces of plywood. In another corner, there was a table littered with a car battery, a gas-powered chain saw and a desktop computer. In the middle of all this sat the Sheriff’s work desk, which was piled high with papers, folders and envelopes of all shapes and sizes.

The locksmith was hunched over the safe and turned around when I closed the door. “You the photographer?” he asked.

“Name’s McMorn,” I answered. “From The Herald.”

His expression changed at the mention of the newspaper. “Oh, really?” he said. “Did the Sheriff talk with you about keeping this hush, hush until they figure out what was going one with this stuff?”

I nodded. “Don’t sweat it,” I said. “What’s the deal with the safe?”

“Crazy thing,” he said. “I’d already have it open, but I ran into some difficulties. Look here on the back.”

We stepped around to the rear of the safe, and he pointed at the bottom. “Safe design and manufacturing practices haven’t changed much over the years. Normally, with a safe of this type and age, there would have been a manufacturer’s code and serial number on the lower back side of the safe.”

He pointed to where this should have been, and I could see that someone had taken the time to scratch all of this off. “As you can see,” he continued. “In this case, that information’s not available. Looks like they scratched it off with a screwdriver and a hammer. If I’d had that number, I would have been able to call up the manufacturer. They’re still in business, and with the serial number, they would have either been able to give me the combination or tell me where to drill in order to open the safe. They only give this information about to licensed and registered locksmiths, by the way."

“So what now?”

“What now is that I’m going to have to do it the hard way,” he said.

“How long do you think that’ll take?”

“About an hour, if I’m lucky,” he said.

What that said, he went to work on the safe. I helped as much as I could, which didn’t extend much beyond handing a tool every once in a while. Forty-five minutes later, while drilling a fifth hole through the safe’s thick steel door, he hit pay dirt. He switched off the drill and removed his earphones.

“Alright, that should do it,” he said, more to himself than to me. He reached into his bag and grabbed a crowbar. “Stand back,” he said. I did and watched as he put the business end of the crowbar to the edge of the safe’s combination dial. He then produced a hammer and struck the crowbar hard. The dial fell away and clattered to the floor, exposing the inner workings of the safe. The locksmith smiled, grabbed the handle and gave it a turn.

To say that I was surprised by what happened next would be an understatement. As the locksmith pulled the door open just a few inches, something rushed out of the decades old darkness and into the light. I only caught a glimpse of what looked like a large rat as it bolted out of the safe’s interior. The locksmith, who stood much closer to the thing, let out a yelp.

I instinctively raised my camera and snapped a picture. At the same time, I
backpedaled a step only to trip against a pile of old case files, which caused me to stagger into the display of uniform badges on the wall. I crashed hard to the floor as the large plywood display detached from the wall and fell on top of me, pinning me to the floor.

The locksmith’s bloodcurdling screams filled the room.

(All rights reserved. This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.)

Yesterday's News from The Evergreen Courant for April 23, 2012


THREE YEARS AGO
APRIL 16, 2009

“Conecuh County attorney and former state representative Greg Albritton won Tuesday’s Republican primary and will face Democrat Marc Keahey for the Senate District 22 seat.”

“Sparta Academy raised $1,300 for this year’s Peddlin’ For A Cure charity bike ride in which Sparta math teacher Keith Burt biked 99 miles from the Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville to Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile on Friday. Burt rode in memory of his late father Melvin Burt of Mobile, who passed away Monday of last week; the late Pam Hammonds, the late Kinsley Bulger, the late Wayne Hutcheson and the late Richard Brown.”

“U.S. Representative Bobby Bright (D-Montgomery) told a crowd of around 40 people last week that he is against a proposed landfill in Conecuh County.
“Bright, who took office about 90 days ago, held a ‘Congress on Your Corner’ meeting at Repton Town Hall last Thursday morning and told the crowd that he’s aware that a ‘vast majority’ of people in Conecuh County are against a landfill.”

“The next chapter in the ongoing lawsuit over Evergreen’s disputed mayoral election will unfold tomorrow (Friday) starting at 9 a.m.
“On Monday of last week, Judge Edward McDermott, a retired Mobile judge who was appointed to hear the case, filed an order in Conecuh County Circuit Court that officially set the time and date for the next hearing in the case.”

18 YEARS AGO
APRIL 21, 1994

“Clayton Cobb announces he is a candidate for the office of Coroner of Conecuh County in the upcoming Democratic primary.
“Cobb is a lifelong resident of the Brooklyn-Paul community. He is self-employed and operates Brooklyn Machine, Inc. He is a Blue Lodger and Scottish Rite Mason.
“Cobb is married to the former Carol Ann Brown of Evergreen and they have three sons and two daughters.”

“Weather Watcher Harry Ellis featured WSFA-TV: Harry Ellis, a Weather Watcher for WSFA-TV, will be featured on Channel 12 as part of a month-long salute to the Weather Watchers.
“Each weekday between April 25 and June 3, WSFA will salute one Weather Watcher with announcements throughout the day as well as in the 6:00 and 1:00 reports.
“According to WSFA’s Chief Weathercaster Rich Thomas, “Harry has been and continues to be an important contributor to the Weather Watchers network. WSFA depends on these people to provide important information to the viewing public. We can’t thank them enough for what they do.”

“A large crowd was on hand Saturday for the Eighth Annual Strawberry Festival. The festival is held in downtown Castleberry each April and there are always plenty of arts and crafts and delicious strawberries for everyone.”

33 YEARS AGO
APRIL 19, 1979

“John P. Bewley, retired Soil Conservation Service technician, was recently presented a gold emblem by the Alabama Grand Lodge, Free & Accepted Masons, in recognition of his 50 years membership as a Mason. The presentation ceremony was conducted at Greening Lodge No. 53 of which Bewley has been a member since August 13, 1943. He joined the Mt. Hermon Lodge No. 179 in Maryland on March 31, 1928. The 50th anniversary emblem was presented by District Lecturer Jesse L. Byrd of Greenville. Bewley served as Greening Lodge as Worshipful Master in 1972-73 and has held other offices. He is currently serving as Tyler of the lodge.”

“Earl reports the weather, philosophizes: Weatherman Earl Windham reports a trace, .007 of an inch, of rain on April 9, and 1.13 inches on Friday, April 13, along with lots of wind, thunder and lightning.
“Ole Earl also philosophized a bit as he wrote: ‘Well, dear Ole Bob: the bitter goes with the sweet. I bet you didn’t know women have better memories than men. For example, the average woman of 30 can remember things that happened to her 40 years ago.’”

“Cook Morrison’s Grand Champion Steer of the 1979 Conecuh County Fat Calf Show brought $1.05 per pound, a total of $1,223.05 for the 1,165-pound crossbreed. Sam Kelly, vice president and manager of the Evergreen branch, of Union Bank of Repton, Castleberry and Evergreen, was the successful buyer of the Champ.”

48 YEARS AGO
APRIL 16, 1964

“GREENING LODGE NO. 53 F.&A.M. Meets Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday At Masonic Hall, 7:30 P.M.”

“Miss Sally Oswald, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Oswald, was chosen Key Club Sweetheart of the 7th Division at the 12th annual convention of the Alabama District of Key Club International held in Montgomery last weekend. The 7th division includes clubs in Greenville, Monroeville and Evergreen. Sally, a majorette and Princess Merry of 1963, was recently named Sweetheart for 1964-65 by the Evergreen Key Club."

“Elbert Williams will lead the Evergreen Jaycees in the coming year. The assistant county agent was elected Monday night to succeed Walter Smith.”

“An order of the Alabama Public Service Commission has instructed the Southern Bell Telephone Co. to construct lines giving service to several rural areas in Conecuh County through the Evergreen Exchange.”

“Repton Masonic Lodge 575 and Eastern Star 252 are sponsoring a political rally, cake auction, chicken supper and a hillbilly music program tonight (Thursday) at five o’clock at Repton High School Auditorium.”

“County 4-H’ers and FFA’ers will exhibit some 50 fine, fed fat calves in the annual Conecuh County 4-H and FFA Fat Calf Show here Monday.”

63 YEARS AGO
APRIL 21, 1949

“The Medical Association of the State of Alabama today paid tribute to 23 physicians throughout the state. Dr. P.L. Hollingsworth of Belleville, Alabama was among those awarded a Certificate of Distinction by the Association for 50 years in the practice of medicine.”

“Airfield Weather Station May Reopen This Summer: According to a letter received by State Senator R.G. Kendall Jr. from Congressman George Grant the weather station at the Evergreen Air Field may go into operation again this summer.

“Mr. Grant’s letter read:
“With further reference to the Evergreen Air Field Weather Station, this is to advise that I have checked again with the Civil Aeronautics Administration and the assurance was given me that the necessary equipment for the Evergreen installation is included in the first 100 stations being equipped and established, and it is expected that the necessary equipment will be received by the Civil Aeronautics Administration by July 1st.
“I was assured that under the circumstances, the station should be in operation sometime late in the summer.
“I certainly hope that it will be, and I shall be very glad to continue to do everything that I can here to be of assistance, and with personal good wishes to you, I am,
“Sincerely,
“George Grant.”

“Ed James, veteran COURANT operator is back on the job this week after nearly a year’s absence because of ill health. Seems like old times around the office.
“Be seein’ you.”

“Effective Wed., April 20, H.L. Riley assumed his duties as policeman for the City, succeeding R.Z. Wells, who resigned last week to enter business for himself.”

Daily Weather Observations for Mon., April 23, 2012

Temp: 54.7 degrees F (12.6 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 74 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Clear.

Winds: 7.1 mph out of the West-Northwest. (Light Breeze)

Barometric Pressure: 29.49 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.1 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 25.2 inches

Local Weather Alerts: Wind Alert in effect from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Local Pollen Alert also in effect.

NOTES: Today is the 114th day of 2012 and the 35th day of Spring. There are 252 days left in the year. Today is also Confederate Memorial Day.

And Remember - "If salt is sticky and gains in weight, it will rain before too late."

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Grisham's 'Calico Joe' takes top spot 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, there is only one new book at the top of the four major best-sellers lists this week.

"Calico Joe" by John Grisham replaced "The Lost Years" by Mary Higgins Clark as the No. 1 book on the hardcover fiction best-sellers list.

"Drift" by Rachel Maddow retained its place as the top book on the hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list for the third week in a row.

"The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks retained its place as the top book on the mass market paperback best-sellers list for the fourth straight week.

"Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James retained its place atop the trade paperbacks best-sellers list for the second week in a row.

There are four 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 "Calico Joe" by John Grisham (1), "Come Home" by Lisa Scottoline (3), "The Lifeboat" by Charlotte Rogan (10) and "The Cove" by Ron Rash (15).

There are four books on this week’s hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They include "A Natural Woman" by Carole King (5), "Let It Go" by T.D. Jakes (8), "Drop Dead Healthy" by A.J. Jacobs (14) and "Heroes for My Daughter" by Brad Meltzer (15).

There are four books on this week’s mass market paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on that list last week. They include "A Storm of Swords" by George R.R. Martin (12), "Sixkill" by Robert B. Parker (13), "Mobbed" by Carol Higgins Clark (14) and "The Scoop" by Fern Michaels (15).

There are two books on this week’s trade paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They include "The Fiddler" by Beverly Lewis (12) and "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander (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. "Calico Joe" by John Grisham
2. "Guilty Wives" by James Patterson
3. "Come Home" by Lisa Scottoline
4. "The Lost Years" by Mary Higgins Clark
5. "The Shoemaker's Wife" by Adriana Trigiani
6. "Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art" by Christopher Moore
7. "Stay Close" by Harlan Coben
8. "The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection: No 1. Ladies Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith
9. "Betrayal: A Novel" by Danielle Steel
10. "The Lifeboat" by Charlotte Rogan
11. "The Beginner's Goodbye" by Anne Tyler
12. "A Dance with Dragons" by George R.R. Martin
13. "Lone Wolf" by Jodi Picoult
14. "Lover Reborn" by J.R. Ward
15. "The Cove" by Ron Rash

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "Drift" by Rachel Maddow
2. "Mrs. Kennedy and Me" by Lisa McCubbin and Clint Hill
3. "The Big Miss" by Hank Haney
4. "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier" by Ree Drummond
5. "A Natural Woman" by Carole King
6. "The Blood Sugar Solution" by Mark Hyman, M.D.
7. "Trickle Down Tyranny" by Michael Savage
8. "Let It Go" by T.D. Jakes
9. "Imagine" by Jonah Lehrer
10. "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed
11. "Weeknights with Giada" by Giada De Laurentiis
12. "Steve Jobs: A Biography" by Walter Isaacson
13. "Killing Lincoln" by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
14. "Drop Dead Healthy" by A.J. Jacobs
15. "Heroes for My Daughter" by Brad Meltzer

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks
2. "Chasing Fire" by Nora Roberts
3. "The Postcard Killers" by James Patterson & Lisa Marklund
4. "The Devil Colony" by James Rollins
5. "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin
6. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" by Seth Grahame-Smith
7. "I'll Walk Alone" by Mary Higgins Clark
8. "The Affair" by Lee Child
9. "A Clash of Kings" by George R.R. Martin
10. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson
11. "A Turn in the Road" by Debbie Macomber
12. "A Storm of Swords" by George R.R. Martin
13. "Sixkill" by Robert B. Parker
14. "Mobbed" by Carol Higgins Clark
15. "The Scoop" by Fern Michaels

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James
2. "The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks
3. "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo, Sonja Burpo, Colton Burpo and Lynn Vincent
4. "Zero Day" by David Baldacci
5. "Bossypants" by Tina Fey
6. "The Magic" by Rhonda Byrne
7. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot
8. "The Vow" by Kim & Krickitt Carpenter with Dana Wilkerson
9. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson
10. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" by Seth Grahame-Smith
11. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett
12. "The Fiddler" by Beverly Lewis
13. "Now You See Her" by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
14. "Moonwalking with Einstein" by Joshua Foer
15. "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander

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.

Daily Weather Observations for Sun., April 22, 2012

Temp: 56.3 degrees F (13.5 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 76 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Mostly clear with a few trace, scattered clouds.

Winds: 4.4 mph out of the Northwest. (Light Breeze)

Barometric Pressure: 29.34 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 4.6 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.1 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 25.2 inches

Local Weather Alerts: Wind Alert in effect from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Local Pollen Alert also in effect.

NOTES: Today is the 113th day of 2012 and the 34th day of Spring. There are 253 days left in the year. Today is also Earth Day and the first day of Administrative Professionals Day. Yesterday was the New Moon.

And Remember - "When the sun shines while raining, it will rain the same time again tomorrow."

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

How would you rank the Academy Award Best Picture winners from the 1940s?

It’s been a while since I’ve written about it (nine months to be exact) but I’m still working on a movie-watching project in which I’m trying to watch all of the Academy Award winners for Best Picture, in reverse order, starting with the most recent winners and working my way backwards.

I officially started this project back in November 2010, and I’m pleased to announce today that I recently finished watching all of the winners from the 1940s.

Winners from that decade included Rebecca (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), Mrs. Miniver (1942), Casablanca (1943), Going My Way (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), Hamlet (1948) and All the King’s Men (1949).

I have to admit that I’d never seen any of these movies prior to this project, and they were all very good. Which of these movies is the best is a hard question to answer, but what follows is my ranking of the Best Picture winners from 1940 to 1949.

No. 1 – Casablanca: Based on the unpublished play, “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, this oft-quoted movie starred Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Bogart plays American Rick Blaine, who owns a nightclub in Morocco during World War II. His world gets turned upside down when he has to help an ex-girlfriend and her new husband escape from Nazis.

No. 2 – The Best Years of Our Lives: This movie is about three WWII veterans who return to small-town life and deal with their experiences during the war. This movie stars Harold Russell, a real-life WWII vet, who became one of only two non-professional actors to receive an Academy Award for acting. He enlisted in the Army the day after Pearl Harbor only to lose both of his hands when a defective fuse caused an explosive to go off in his hands. In “The Best Years of Our Lives” he plays Homer, a Navy vet who lost both of his hands in the war.

No. 3 – Going My Way: I don’t usually care for musicals, but I have to admit that this one was pretty good. It stars Bing Crosby in the role of Father O’Malley, who is sent to a New York City parish to take over for an old, cantankerous priest. If this light-hearted comedy doesn’t make you smile at least once, you’re made of stone.

No. 4 – Gentleman’s Agreement: Based on the 1947 novel by Laura Z. Hobson, this movie stars Gregory Peck, who plays a journalist who poses as a Jew in order to write an expose about bigotry. I’ve read that this movie was very controversial at the time of its release, but I thought it was interesting that Peck starred in another movie that dealt with prejudice.

No. 5 – Rebecca: The only Alfred Hitchcock movie to win an Oscar for Best Picture, this movie starred Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter, who finds himself at the center of a mystery involving the death of his first wife. This movie, which is based on the 1937 novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, made me want to read that book and watch all of Hitchcock’s other movies.

No. 6 – All the King’s Men: Based on the famous 1946 novel by Robert Penn Warren, this movie stars Broderick Crawford in the lead role of Willie Stark. Stark starts off as a model politician only to become corrupted by the system he’s trying to reform. This movie also made me want to read the original novel.

No. 7 – The Lost Weekend: Based on the 1944 novel by Charles R. Jackson, this movie starred Ray Milland in the lead role of alcoholic writer Don Birnem. Birnem’s girlfriend and brother try to help him quit drinking, but like the worst kind of addict he won’t let anyone help him. Just last year, this movie was selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion in the National Film Registry.

No. 8 – How Green Was My Valley: Based on the 1939 novel by Richard Llewellyn, this movie starred a very young Roddy McDowall and recounts 50 years in the lives of his Welsh coal-mining family. To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this movie at first, but I can assure you that this is an awesome movie. It was selected for the National Film Registry in 1990.

No. 9 – Mrs. Miniver: The title character is based on a fictional English housewife created by Jan Struther for a series of 1937 newspaper columns, which were later compiled in book form. In the movie, actress Greer Garson plays the title role, and the movie is about how her family overcomes the hardships of war. Miniver is one tough housewife, and she even single-handedly captures a German pilot to crashes near her home.

No. 10 – Hamlet: Based on the play by William Shakespeare, this movie stars Laurence Olivier as Hamlet, a young prince in 15th century Denmark. Thanks to high school English, most of us are somewhat familiar with the plot. Hamlet’s out to avenge his regal father’s murder, but a whole lot of carnage ensues along the way. As an added bonus, there’s a creepy ghost in this movie.

Half the fun of doing a ranking like this is hearing how readers in the audience would have ranked the same movies? Which of the movies listed above is you favorite and why? How would you rank them one through ten? Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Judge not 'The Year of Living Biblically' until you've actually read it

My good friend and distinguished newspaper colleague Josh Dewberry of The Monroe Journal recently loaned me a book that I thoroughly enjoyed, “The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible” by A.J. Jacobs.

One of the most interesting things about this book was the reaction that I got from people when I told them that I was reading it. I got the feeling that more than a few people I talked with about the book didn’t approve of it. It was a classic case of judging a book by its cover or, in this case, by its title. I got the impression that some folks, without having read the book, thought it was irreverent and mocked the Bible. The truth is that this isn’t the case. If it were, I wouldn’t be writing about it.

Published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster, this 416-page book describes how Jacobs, a self-described agnostic Jew living in New York City, decides to literally abide by every single rule in the Bible, including all of the commandments and laws in the Old and New Testaments. What follows is a fascinating look at what’s in - and what’s not in - the Bible, how those commandments and laws were actually followed in Biblical times and how those commandments and laws apply to the world today.

Jacobs, an editor at Esquire magazine, was assisted in this effort by a team of spiritual advisors, a wide variety of Bible translations and volumes of Biblical commentary. He also took a number of field trips, including trips to the Holy Land, to a Kentucky Creation Museum, to Jerry Falwell’s church in Virginia, to the Amish country and to snake-handling services in Tennessee. He also didn’t shave for a year and learned to play a 10-string harp. He even stoned an adulterer.

I was interested to learn that this book is being adapted into a movie, but no official release date has been set, according to the Internet Movie Database.

For those of you who have read and enjoyed “The Year of Living Biblically,” you might want to check out some of Jacobs’ other books. They include:

- The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Man in the World

- My Life As an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself

- Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection

- America Off-Line

- Esquire Presents: What It Feels Like

For more information about “The Year of Living Biblically” and Jacobs’ other books, visit his official Web site at ajjacobs.com. If you’re interested in buying any of these books, they’re available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

In the end, “The Year of Living Biblically” is one of the best books that I’ve read in a long time. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and was also very educational. How many of you have read “The Year of Living Biblically”? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below.

Daily Weather Observations for Fri., April 20, 2012

Temp: 63.5 degrees F (17.5 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 83 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Overcast and Foggy.

Winds: 0.1 mph out of the East. (Calm)

Barometric Pressure: 29.41 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 4.6 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.1 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 25.2 inches

Local Weather Alerts: Local Pollen Alert in effect.

NOTES: Today is the 111th day of 2012 and the 32nd day of Spring. There are 255 days left in the year.

And Remember - "No weather's ill if the wind be still."

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of controversial landfill vote

As hard as it is to believe, yesterday (Wednesday) marked the one-year anniversary of the Conecuh County Commission’s vote to approve the Conecuh Woods landfill application, paving the way for the construction of one of the nation’s largest landfills in our own backyard.

I said it then, and I’ll say it now. That vote will likely be looked back on as one of the most important votes in the county’s history. In fact, future generations might even look back on April 18, 2011 as a turning point in the county’s history.

For those of you who may have forgotten, commissioners Leonard Millender, Wendell Byrd and Jerold Dean voted in favor of the application. Commissioners Hugh Barrow and D.K. Bodiford voted against.

Much has occurred in the past 12 months and more than a few changes have taken place regarding the commission. Barrow and Dean decided not to seek for re-election, and Bodiford was defeated in the primary by Citizens for a Clean Southwest Alabama Chairman Johnny Andrews. In the run-off election this coming Tuesday, Millender will face challenger Clinton Peters, and Byrd will face challenger Ras McCreary.

It’ll be interesting to see how Tuesday’s run-off election turns out. It’s sometimes said that voters have short memories, but sometimes that’s just not the case.

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The American Library Association recently released its annual State of America’s Libraries report, which includes its annual list of Top 10 List of Frequently Challenged Books for 2011.

The previous year’s most challenged books included:

1. “ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series)” by Lauren Myracle

2. “The Color of Earth (series)” by Kim Dong Hwa

3. “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins

4. “My Mom’s Having a Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy” by Dori Hillestad Butler

5. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie

6. “Alice (series)” by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

7. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

8. “What My Mother Doesn’t Know” by Sonya Sones

9. “Gossip Girls (series)” by Cecily Von Ziegesar

10. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

Books that were on the lists last year that fell out of the top 10 included “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins, “Lush” by Natasha Friend, “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich, “Revolutionary Voices,” edited by Amy Sonnie and “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer.

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The good folks up at the state tourism department released this week their list of Top 10 events to attend in May. This month’s list includes the following events:

- The Hangout Music Festival, May 18-20, Gulf Shores

- Gardendale Music Festival, May 4-5, Gardendale

- WhistleStop Festival & Rocket City BBQ Cook-off, May 4-5, Huntsville

- Mayfest 2012, May 5, Atmore

- 63rd Annual Blessing of the Fleet, May 6, Bayou La Batre

- Cullman Strawberry Festival, May 11-12, Cullman

- 40th Annual Art in the Park, May 12-13, Foley

- Jubilee Cityfest, May 18-19, Montgomery

- Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Festival, May 26-27, Decatur

- 25th Annual Muleday/Chickenfest, May 31-June 2, Gordo

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for April 19, 2012

THREE YEARS AGO
APRIL 16, 2009

“The City of Evergreen recognized Evergreen Little League President Brian Martin for over two decades of service to Evergreen Little League during a surprise plaque presentation at this year’s Opening Day Ceremony. Pictured during the presentation are Martin, Evergreen Mayor Larry Fluker and city council members Diane Skipper, Vivian Fountain and John Skinner Jr. Opening Day festivities were held Friday evening at Evergreen Municipal Park.”

“Evergreen Mayor Larry Fluker throws out the ceremonial first pitch during Evergreen Little League’s Opening Day ceremonies Friday at Evergreen Municipal Park. Evontae Johnson caught the first pitch. Johnson is a catcher for the Orioles, who have won the past three Evergreen Little League championships.”

“Hillcrest High School’s boys and girls track and field teams finished second and fourth overall, respectively, during a meet April 4 at T.R. Miller High School in Brewton.
“Hillcrest senior Ellis Gill finished first in the long jump event, recording a jump that measured 21.7-3/4 feet.
“In the 4x100-meter relay, Hillcrest’s boys team took top honors with a final time of 44.49 seconds. Runners in that event included Gill, sophomore William Ferguson, junior Adrian McMillian and senior Justin Watson.”

“Colby Higdon, 7-year-old son of Rod and Margaret Higdon of Bermuda, killed his first turkey Saturday, April 11, while hunting with his dad.”

18 YEARS AGO
APRIL 21, 1994

“GOBBLE, GOBBLE! Sammy Pettis and Aaron Pettis proudly show off this fine turkey they killed while hunting near Castleberry on March 22, 1994. The turkey had a 10-1/4 inch beard, one-inch spurs and weighed 17-1/4 pounds.”

“EVERGREEN LITTLE LEAGUE will hold Opening Day Ceremonies this Sat., April 23, at 1 p.m. at the Evergreen Municipal Park. Players on T-Ball, Minor League and Little League teams will be introduced at this time. Everyone is invited to come out and support these young people.”

“Hillcrest High School finished in third place in the 4A-6A division of the Warhawk Invitational Powerlifting Meet held April 16, 1994 at Dadeville High School.
“Blake Anderson broke his own squat record of 505 pounds and moved it to a new mark of 515 pounds. He also broke his own bench press record of 270 pounds and moved it to a new mark of 275 pounds. He broke his own dead lift record of 550 pounds and moved it to a new mark of 575 pounds. He broke his own total record of 1,300 pounds and moved it to a new mark of 1,365 pounds.
“James Lee broke his own squat record of 350 pounds and moved it to a new mark of 375 pounds. He also broke his own dead lift record of 455 pounds and moved it to a new record of 460 pounds.
“Willie Campbell broke his own dead lift record of 355 pounds and moved it to a new mark of 385 pounds.”

33 YEARS AGO
APRIL 19, 1979

“Sawyer Griffin brought in this wild turkey Wednesday morning of last week. The gobbler weighed 16 pounds and had a 10-3/4 inch beard. Sawyer said he bagged the big bird ‘in the woods.’”

“The Courant’s editor is always happy to learn that people read his efforts on occasion. State Senator Reo Kirkland Jr. of Brewton apparently does read ‘The Colyum’ at times as he sent the picture above and this note: ‘Dear Bob: After reading your column on turkey hunters, I decided to send you proof that I am smarter than at least one turkey. In all honesty, however, I must admit that this one turkey represents several trips during which I was out-smarted.’ Sen. Kirkland took time last week from his law practice and preparation for the regular legislative session which began Tuesday, to bag this gobbler which weight 18 pounds and had a 10-inch beard. Reo didn’t reveal just where he killed the trophy bird other than say that it ‘was within our District’… the District includes Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia and Monroe counties.”

48 YEARS AGO
APRIL 16, 1964

“Aggies drop two by 1-0 scores: The Bay Minette Tigers dealt the Evergreen Aggies their first baseball defeat of 1964 by an 1-0 count Thursday night in Evergreen.
“Robertson hurled a three-hitter for the winners who scored their unearned run in the second.
“Jimmy Weaver went all the way for Evergreen, allowing seven hits.
“The Evergreen Aggies suffered their second straight 1-0 loss Saturday night, this time at the hands of archrival T.R. Miller. The game was played in Evergreen.
“Sam Schad four-hit the Aggies but needed help from Bob Watson to get the last out. Bubba Faulkner pitched a three-hitter but lost it on an unearned run.
“An infield error in the seventh gave the victors their lone run.
“The Aggies record is now 1-2.”

“Murray Johnson, former Evergreen resident, and Mrs. Elon Holland were winners of the high series handicap in the bowling tournament held at Escambia Bowl, Atmore, recently for the Heart Fund. Mrs. Betty Bowab and John Guy won high series scratch in the event which raised $44 for the Heart Fund. Johnson, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Johnson Jr. of Evergreen, is a 1956 graduate of Evergreen High School, where he was a star tackle on the football team. Of his class of 56, he was the first to get his college degree, finishing at Auburn University. He and his wife, the former Jean Hanks, and children now make their home in Atmore, where he is associated with Liberty National Life Insurance Co.”

“The ninth grade piled up 30 points to win the intramural track meet for junior high grades at Lyeffion High School. The meet was under the direction of Coach Shirley Frazier.
“Winners by grades in the various events with runnersup listed second were: 100 yards, Ronnie Booker, eighth and Stanley Wilson, ninth; mile, Jimmy Morrison, ninth, and Raymond Mack, seventh; 440, Homer Chavers, ninth, and George Town, eight; 220, Ronnie Booker, eighth, and Haywood Salter, ninth; 880, Homer Chavers, ninth, and Jerry New, ninth.”

63 YEARS AGO
APRIL 21, 1949

“Ottis Johnson Leads Troy S.T.C. Batsmen: Ottis Johnson, former Evergreen Greenie star, is currently leading the Troy State Teacher’s College nine in batting with a .320 average. Ottis starred with the Greenies for three seasons always batting near the .400 mark, and was one of the Tri-County Baseball League’s top outfielders. This is his first season with the college squad.
“The TROY MESSENGER, daily paper in Troy, Alabama, had this to say about Ottis:
“’At present rightfielder Ottis Johnson is leading the pack at the plate with a .320 average. The big flychaser has added plenty of power to the Wave attack since breaking into the lineup. This is his first season of baseball with the Wavemen.’”

“Mrs. Samuel Averill Watson returned Tuesday afternoon from several days visit with Mr. and Mrs. Philip N. Sowell of Brewton. She was one of 21 guests at the Wild Turkey dinner and also as their guest at the opening game of the Alabama State League Monday evening between Brewton and Andalusia.”

Record-breaking catfish caught at Holt Reservoir

Many of you anglers in the reading audience will be interested to hear that a Tuscaloosa man recently caught a record-breaking blue catfish. According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, John Nichols broke the state record when he caught a 120-pound, four-ounce blue cat on March 9 in the Holt Reservoir, a 3,296-acre lake on the Black Warrior River, north of Tuscaloosa. Nichols caught this monster catfish with a chicken gizzard on a large circle hook on a 40-pound fishing line.

The previous record was held by a 111-pound blue cat caught by William P. McKinley in 1996 at the Wheeler Reservoir. That fish held the world record for some time until it was broken by a 143-pound blue cat that was caught at Buggs Island Lake, Va. That 143-pounder remains the world record holder.

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This past week was a big week in statewide high school awards. Nathan Riley Spence of Albertville High School and Justin Levins of Prattville High School were named the overall winners at the 27th annual Bryant-Jordan Student Athlete Awards Banquet Monday of last week at the Birmingham Sheraton Hotel.

Spence was the recipient of the Larry D. Striplin Jr. Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award while Levins received the Ken and Betty Joy Blankenship Student Achievement Athlete of the Year Award.

On Wednesday of last week, Craig Sword of Carver-Montgomery and Jasmine Jones of Bob Jones earned the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Mr. and Miss Basketball Awards at the annual Player of the Year luncheon at the Alabama Activity Center in Montgomery.

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The “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” feature Tuesday of last week included an unusual sports-related item. According to this popular weird news cartoon, a guy named Zack Hample has caught more than 5,300 home run and foul baseballs from Major League baseball games in 48 different stadiums.

Hample’s an interesting guy. He runs a Web site (www.zackhample.com) that purports to be “The Place to Learn About Baseball – And How to Snag One at a Major League Game.” Known as “The King of Snagging,” Hample has also written a number of books, including “How to Snag Major League Baseballs: More Than 100 Tested Tips that Really Work” (1999), “Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan’s Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts and Deeply Serious Geeks” (2007) and “The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals and Secrets Beneath the Stitches.”

According to his Web site, most of the home run and foul baseballs that he’s caught over the years in major league stadiums were caught during batting practices, but he’s “caught lots during actual games.”

Some of the balls that he’s caught could be considered historic. In September 2008, he caught two of the last 10 home runs hit in the old Yankee Stadium. A week and a half later, he caught the last Mets home run to ever be hit at Shea Stadium. He also caught Barry Bonds’ 724th career home run at PETCO Park in San Diego.

Daily Weather Observations for Thurs., April 19, 2012

Temp: 61.3 degrees F (16.3 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.2 inches.

Humidity: 82 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Clear.

Winds: 0.1 mph out of the North-Northwest. (Calm)

Barometric Pressure: 29.51 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 4.6 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.1 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 25.2 inches

Local Weather Alerts: Local Pollen Alert in effect.

NOTES: Today is the 110th day of 2012 and the 31st day of Spring. There are 256 days left in the year.

And Remember - "Catchy drawer and sticky door, coming rain will pour and pour."

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This week's movie picks are 'The Moth Diaries' and 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol'

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:

Chimpanzee (Documentary, G): Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield and starring the voice of Tim Allen.

Darling Companion (Comedy, Drama, PG-13): Directed by Lawrence Kasdan and starring Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Ayelet Zurer, Richard Jenkins and Dianne Wiest.

Downtown Express (Musical, Romance): Directed by David Grubin and starring Philippe Quint, Nellie McKay, Michael Cumpsty, Carolyn McCormick and Ashley Springer.

Farmageddon (Documentary, Not Rated): Directed by Kristin Canty.

Goodbye First Love (Drama, Romance): Directed by Mia Hansen-Love and starring Lola Creton, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Magne-Havard Brekke, Valerie Bonneton and Serge Renko.

The Lucky One (Drama, Romance, PG-13): Directed by Scott Hicks and starring Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner, Jay R. Ferguson and Joe Chrest.

Marley (Documentary, Music, PG-13): Directed by Kevin Macdonald.

The Moth Diaries (Suspense, Horror, R): Directed by Mary Harron and starring Sarah Bolger, Lily Cole, Sarah Gadon, Scott Speedman and Valerie Tian.

Think Like a Man (Comedy, Romance, PG-13): Directed by Tim Story and starring Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall and Kevin Hart.

To the Artic (Documentary, G): Directed by Greg MacGillivray and starring the voice of Meryl Streep.

Zombie Dawn (Horror, Action, R): Directed by Lucio A. Rojas and Cristian Toledo and starring Sebastian Accorsi, Guillermo Alfaro, Martin Bohte, Felipe Lobos and Jorge Magni.

New DVD releases for the week of April 17 include:

7 Below (Suspense, R): Directed by Kevin Carraway and starring Val Kilmer, Ving Rhames, Luke Goss, Bonnie Somerville and Christian Baha.

Born to Be Wild (Documentary, G): Directed by David Lickley and starring the voice of Morgan Freeman.

The Divide (Science Fiction, Suspense, R): Directed by Xavier Gens and starring Lauren German, Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney B. Vance and Rosanna Arquette.

Episode 50 (Horror, Not Rated): Directed by Joe Smalley and Tess Smalley and starring Josh Folan, Chris Perry and Natalie Wetta.

A Heavenly Vintage (Drama, R): Directed by Niki Caro and starring Jeremie Renier, Vera Farmiga, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Eric Godon and Gaspard Ulliel.

The Last Rites of Joe May (Drama, Not Rated): Directed by Joe Maggio and starring Dennis Farina, Jamie Anne Allman, Ian Barford, Chelcie Ross and Meredith Droeger.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Action, Suspense, PG-13): Directed by Brad Bird and starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Josh Holloway.

Robotropolis (Action, Science Fiction, Not Rated): Directed by Christopher Hatton and starring Zoe Naylor, Graham Sibley, Edward Foy and Lani Tupu.

Shame (Drama, NC-17): Directed by Steve McQueen and starring Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie and Hannah Ware.

If I could only watch one movie at the theatre this week, it would be “To Moth Diaries,” and if I had to pick just one DVD to rent this week, it would be “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.”

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.