Friday, August 31, 2012

What's YOUR take on the New England Patriots 'Spygate' scandal?

I read a good, interesting sports book the other day that many football fans in the reading audience would probably enjoy, “Spygate: The Untold Story” by Bryan O’Leary.

Published on July 20 by KLR Publishing, this 270-page book takes a detailed look at the NFL cheating scandal that resulted when the New England Patriots were caught videotaping an opposing defensive coach’s sideline hand signals in September 2007. Many of you will remember that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 by the NFL for his involvement in the incident. The team was slapped with a $250,000 fine and had a first-round draft pick taken from them.

In “Spygate: The Untold Story,” O’Leary alleges and attempts to prove that the September 2007 incident, which occurred during a game against the New York Jets, was just a small part of an elaborate videotaping and electronic eavesdropping system employed by the Patriots. The Patriots not only videotaped live games, but they also went to great lengths to spy on other teams at practice and during pre-game walk-throughs. The Patriots have supposedly employed this cheating system during Belichick’s entire tenure as head coach at New England, which began in 2000.

O’Leary also alleges that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is one of the main players in the cheating scheme. He supposedly uses a helmet rigged with a radio that allows assistant coaches to talk to him right up to the snap of the football. In the NFL, all quarterbacks use helmet radios, but by rule they’re monitored by game officials and are shut off with 15 seconds left on the play clock.

O’Leary’s book also includes several statistical studies of New England’s game results from 2001 through 2011. The studies were prepared by Dr. Miao Zang, who holds a PhD in statistical science from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The studies look at New England’s win-loss record at home, their perfect home record during that time and their record against the spread. This discussion in the book covers three chapters, but in a nutshell, it all shows that something very unusual was going on with the Patriots during this time.

“This Spygate affair is the biggest cheating scandal in American sports history,” O’Leary said. “It overshadows the Black Sox throwing the World Series in 1919. At least the Black Sox conspired to actually lose the Series. The Patriots conspired to win, and won three Super Bowls.”

I have to admit that I’ve always sort of admired Bill Belichick, but this book sure makes him look like a dirty cheater. Also, those of us in Alabama know that University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban is one of Belichick’s protégés. Saban served as defensive coordinator at the Cleveland Browns when Belichick was the head coach there, and Saban is considered an offshoot of the Belichick coaching tree. “Spygate” does mention Saban and his ties to Belichick a couple of times, but in no way indicates that Saban was part of any cheating.

In the end, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any football fan in the reading audience. To date, it’s the only full-length book about the Spygate scandal and is definitely worth reading if you’re a fan of the NFL.

Daily Weather Observations for Fri., Aug. 31, 2012

Temp: 75.0 degrees F (23.9 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 1.6 inches.

Humidity: 85 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Overcast; birds and bees audible and visible; dew and standing water on the ground; some security lights still on in the distance; small mushrooms visible in the grass.

Winds: 1.3 mph out of the East-Northeast.

Barometric Pressure: 29.65 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.85 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 6.55 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 53.25 inches

Local Weather Alerts: None.

Alabama River Stage at Claiborne Lock and Dam (gage height in feet):
Today: 7.53 feet
Yesterday: 8.35 feet
Change: -0.82 feet
Flood Stage: 42.0 feet

NOTES: Today is the 244th day of 2012 and the 73rd day of Summer. There are 122 days left in the year.

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. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Historic walking tour would bring visitors to downtown Evergreen

In the course of my job I often hear people talk about things that would attract people to Evergreen and Conecuh County. This subject often comes up at public meetings, and our local elected officials and business leaders have a lot of good ideas when it comes to ways to attract visitors to our area.

For what it’s worth, I thought I’d throw in my two cents this week to talk about something that would be inexpensive and could bring a few tourists to Evergreen - a self-guided historic walking tour of downtown Evergreen.

Evergreen has a rich, unique and interesting history and a tour of this type would attract history-minded tourists to Evergreen’s downtown area. Other towns in our area, including Monroeville and Camden, have walking tours of this type. These tours are self-guided, that is, there’s no need for a tour guide. On those tours, you just follow a brochure-style map that describes the historic locations on the tour.

According to Evergreen historian Sherry Johnston, Evergreen has no historic walking tour of this type, but the idea has been discussed in the past. It never got beyond the discussion phase though, which I think is unfortunate.

I think that the establishment of a historic walking tour in Evergreen would be relatively inexpensive. As far as I can tell, the biggest expense would be the printing of a brochure that would map out and describe the sites on the tour. Printing costs could be kept low by offering the brochure for download on the local Chamber of Commerce’s web site, so that anyone interested in taking the tour could print it at home at no cost to any local public organization. These brochures could also be made available for pick up at the library, the Chamber of Commerce office and at city hall.

A walking tour of downtown Evergreen could include a number of historic locations within a short distance of “No Man’s Land.” Possible tour locations could include the Old L&N Depot, the Bank of Evergreen (Old Pix Theatre) building, the Old Evergreen High School arch, the Old Baptist Orphanage site, The Evergreen Courant, the Evergreen Caboose, the Evergreen City School building, the historic homes along Main Street, the Old Evergreen Cemetery, the county war memorial monument, Evergreen Baptist Church, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and the other older churches downtown.

Visitors wouldn’t necessarily have to enter any of these locations as the brochure would provide them with detailed information about each site. The tours in Camden and Monroeville are designed this way, allowing tour-takers to move along at their own pace. I’ve taken both of those tours in the past two months, and they’re each about an hour long, give or take. The tour in Camden was created by a local Boy Scout, and the tour in Monroeville was designed by the good folks at the Monroe County Heritage Museums.

In the end, I think a historic walking tour in Evergreen would be an inexpensive way to attract a few tourists to downtown Evergreen. It probably wouldn’t bring a flood of sightseers to the city, but it would attract folks who enjoy local history, old architecture and the chance to see “old-timey” places up close.

And while those people are here, I’m sure they’ll be spending their money in our local gas stations, restaurants and possibly in our hotels. I know that I’m not alone when I say that I’d be happy to help work on the creation of a historic walking tour of downtown Evergreen, so if anyone out there is interested in this project, let me know. I’m no local history expert, but I think it would be a worthwhile project for Evergreen.

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for Aug. 30, 2012

FIVE YEARS AGO
AUG. 30, 2007

“Sparta Academy recorded its biggest win in a decade Friday night, defeating East Memorial Christian Academy, 39-0, at Stuart-McGehee Field in Evergreen.
“Sparta’s 39-point win was the biggest for the Warriors since the school’s 60-0 win over Lakeside Academy on Oct. 17, 1997 in Evergreen.
“Sparta scored its first touchdown of the new season when senior Myles Wiggins intercepted a pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown. Wiggins tacked on the extra point, giving the Warriors a 7-0 lead.”
Other standout Sparta players in that game included J.R. Williams, Kyle Cinereski, Mason Black, Hunter Hutcherson, Taylor Brown, D.J. Buckhault, Chris Cinereski, Cody Baggett, Peyton Thompson, Damon Godwin, Dylan Davis and Dalton Baggett.

“Hillcrest High School dropped a pre-season game to Florida’s Fort Walton Beach High School, 28-0, on Friday night in Evergreen, but Hillcrest head coach Maurice Belser said that he saw a number of positive things from this year’s group of Jaguars.
“Justin Nared, a 6-1, 177-pound freshman quarterback, led Hillcrest’s offense with nine passes for 81 yards and a team-high 24 yards on five carries.”
Other standout Hillcrest players in that game included Justin Watson, Malcolm Rudolph, Derek Smith, Neil Presley, Antonio Jordan, Kwann Petters, James Riley, Jimmy Peters and Patrick Cunningham.”

20 YEARS AGO
AUG. 27, 1992

“The 1992 Sparta Academy Warrior Cheerleading Squad will be cheering on their Warriors this Friday night in Luverne to open the 1992 gridiron season. The Warriors play the Crenshaw Christian Academy Cougars. Pictured are co-captains Stephanie Booth and Julie Brundage, Rachel Bohannon, Regina Hawsey, Kelly Booker, Nann Castleberry, captain Kelly Booker and Carla Grimes.”

“Shane Lavigne, son of Mrs. Joyce Lavigne Harper of Evergreen, is the recipient of the 1992 Wendell Hart Scholarship. This prestigious award was announced Tuesday by the scholarship committee.
“Shane is a graduate of Hillcrest High School where he was a member of the Aerospace Club, Student Government Association and Agri-business. He was a member of the Hillcrest High School Math Team for two years and was tapped for membership in Mu Alpha Theta. Shane placed first in the National Chemistry Olympics. He was a valuable member of the Hillcrest football team, lettering two years.
“He will be attending Troy State University in the fall, where he will pursue a degree in pre-engineering.”

“The 1992 Sparta Academy Warriors will have big shoes to fill, trying to better the record of last year’s state runner-up championship team. According to head coach Mike Bledsoe, this will be a ‘rebuilding year’ for the Warriors. Joining Bledsoe of the coaching staff are headmaster David Clanton and assistant coach Michael Bledsoe.”

35 YEARS AGO
AUG. 25, 1977

“The 1977 edition of the Evergreen High School Aggies will open their football season here tonight when they meet traditional rival W.S. Neal.
“Head Coach Charles Branum and assistants Ronnie Brogden and Danny Covin have been working their charges hard in an attempt to get the season off to a winning start.
“Players expected to start tonight include QB Tony Rogers, LHB William McCreary, RHB John Crosby, FB Greg Johnson, WR John Ingram or Phillip Harold, TE Byron Bradley or John Ingram, Tackles Warren Locke and Keith Rabb, and Guards Terrell Rabb and Johnny Hill. Mark Phillips and Wendell Parker will not be starting due to illnesses.
“Other players expected to see action are Mike Adams, Chris McNeil, Greg Thomas, Calvin Thomas, Earnest Williams, Tommy Freeman, Garvin Freeman, Sanford Moye, Johnny Stowers, Melvin Pitts, Willie Willis, Leo Cobb, Ernie Edeker, Frank Davis and Jimmy Lambert.”

“The Sparta Academy Warriors will open their 1977 football season here Saturday night at Stuart-McGehee Field. Kickoff is set for eight o’clock against their traditional opening rival, the Greenville Academy Tornadoes.
“Head coach Mike Bledsoe and assistant ‘Bo’ Owens state that their small squad of 21 has been working hard and showing lots of enthusiasm.”

50 YEARS AGO
AUG. 30, 1962

“Aggie Coach John Law Robinson and line coach Fred Allmon are wearing big smiles this week as their charges move into their second full week of practice. They have found the youthful Evergreen gridders full of spirit and rounding into shape fast.
“This week, he (Robinson) singled out four young players who have shown him a lot in practice, halfbacks Paul Deason, Jimmy Warren and Bob Ivey, center Alvin Dees and guard Tommy Hartley.
“Of his returnees, Robinson is most pleased with the work of quarterback Sid Lambert, tackle Donnie (Big) Jones, end Ronnie Jones and guard Bobby Lynch.”

“The Lyeffion High School Yellow Jackets started their second week of practice with determination and desire to have a winning season, the key words for the 24 candidates.
“All positions are open on the squad, but several boys have shown a great deal of desire to play football.
“Right now, Patton Brown, Harold Brown and Guy Chavers are the top three ends. At tackle, 245-pounder Keith Holcombe and 160-pounder Elmer Gaskey have the starting nod.
“One of the most improved players on the squad is starting guard Don Jones. Charles Salter is the other starter with both boys being pushed by Jessie Middleton and Heyward Satler.
“Center rates a toss-up between Lee Hardee and John Grimes.
“Other linemen battling for positions are Allen Chavers, David Ross and Don Salter.
“In the backfield, Early Wilson, Don Garrett, Harold Wilson and Larry Hardee head the list, but are being pushed by Larry Blackmon, Mickey Fountain, Allen Cook, Mike Burt, Homer Chavers and B.O. O’Gwynn.”

65 YEARS AGO
AUG. 28, 1947

“EVERGREEN HIGH ANNOUNCES 1947 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE:
“Sept. 19, Repton-Evergreen High, here.
“Sept. 26, Pine Hill-Evergreen High, here.
“Oct. 3, Greenville, there.
“Oct. 10, Frisco City, there.
“Oct. 16, W.S. Neal-Evergreen High, here.
“Oct. 31, Monroeville-Evergreen Hi., here.
“Nov. 7, Uriah-Evergreen, here.
“Nov. 14, Camden-Evergreen High, here.
“Nov. 21, T.R. Miller-Evergreen Hi., here.
“This gives Evergreen an impressive and rugged schedule. Seven games will be played under the lights on the home field.”

“Greenies Eliminate Flomaton In Playoff: Evergreen won the honor of playing the winner of the McCullough-Atmore series by defeating Flomaton two straight games in the elimination playoff.
“Big Wade Nobles, a fast ball right-hander, came through with an 8 to 3 win Thursday to solve acting-manager Zell Murphy’s pre-game pitching worries. Eben Moorer and Joe McDonald collected two blows each to pace the Greenies to their 8 to 3 victory.
“Manager Hart opened on the mound for the locals Sunday but had to call on Edsel Johnson to take over in the ninth when he ran into some trouble.”

Daily Weather Observations for Thurs., Aug. 30, 2012

Temp: 75.0 degrees F (23.9 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.1 inches.

Humidity: 84 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Mostly Cloudy; birds audible; bees audible and visible; light dew on the ground; some security lights still on in the distance; a few raindrops felt; small mushrooms visible in the grass.

Winds: 1.3 mph out of the Southeast.

Barometric Pressure: 29.39 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.25 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.95 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 51.65 inches

Local Weather Alerts: None.

Alabama River Stage at Claiborne Lock and Dam (gage height in feet):
Today: 8.35 feet
Yesterday: 7.44 feet
Change: +0.91 feet
Flood Stage: 42.0 feet

NOTES: Today is the 243rd day of 2012 and the 72nd day of Summer. There are 123 days left in the year.

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. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This week's movie picks are 'The Tall Man' and 'Battleship'

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:

The Ambassador (Comedy, Drama, Not Rated): Directed and starring Mads Brugger.

Chicken With Plums (Drama, PG-13): Directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi and starring Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani and Eric Caravaca.

The Day (Science Fiction, Drama, R): Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski and starring Shawn Ashmore, Ashley Bell, Michael Eklund, Cory Hardrict and Dominic Monaghan.

Doggie B (Family, Comedy, PG): Directed by Romanus Wolter and starring Jesse Draper, Bettina Devin, Jane Wiedlin, Patrick Alan Davis and Scott Cox.

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (Action, Drama, R): Directed by Tsui Hark and starring Jet Li, Zhou Xun, Chen Kun, Gwei Lun-Mei and Li Yuchun.

For a Good Time, Call… (Comedy, R): Directed by Jamie Travis and starring Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller, Nia Vardalos, Seth Rogen and Justin Long.

The Good Doctor (Suspense, Drama, PG-13): Directed by Lance Daly and starring Orlando Bloom, Riley Keough, Michael Pena, Taraji P. Henson and Rob Morrow.

Lawless (Crime, Drama, R): Directed by John Hillcoat and starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce.

Little Birds (Drama, R): Directed by Elgin James and starring Juno Temple, Leslie Mann, Kay Panabaker, Neal McDonough and Kate Bosworth.

The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (Family, Children, G): Directed by Matthew Diamond and starring Toni Braxton, Christopher Lloyd, Cloris Leachman, Jaime Pressly and Cary Elwes.

The Possession (Horror, PG-13): Directed by Ole Bornedal and starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Grant Show, Madison Davenport and Quinn Lord.

The Tall Man (Horror, R): Directed by Pascal Laugier and starring Jessica Biel, Jodelle Ferland, Stephen McHattie, Samantha Ferris and William B. Davis.

New DVD releases for the week of Aug. 28 include:

Apartment 143 (R, Suspense, Horror): Directed by Carles Torrens and starring Kai Lennox, Michael O’Keefe, Rick Gonzalez, Fiona Glascott and Gia Mantegna.

Battleship (PG-13, Action, Science Fiction): Directed by Peter Berg and starring Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgard and Tadanobu Asano.

A Beginner’s Guide to Endings (R, Comedy): Directed by Jonathan Sobol and starring Tricia Helfer, Scott Caan, Harvey Keitel, J.K. Simmons and Paulo Costanzo.

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

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

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

Life Happens (R, Comedy): Directed by Kat Coiro and starring Krysten Ritter, Kate Bosworth, Rachel Bilson, Geoff Stults and Justin Kirk.

Lovely Molly (R, Horror, Suspense): Directed by Eduardo Sanchez and starring Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis, Alexandra Holden, Ken Arnold and Daniel Ross.

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

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

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

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., Aug. 29, 2012

Temp: 77.2 degrees F (25.1 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.15 inches.

Humidity: 81 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Mostly cloudy; birds audible; bees audible and visible; light dew on the ground; some security lights still on in the distance.

Winds: 5.3 mph out of the East-Northeast.

Barometric Pressure: 29.30 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.15 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.85 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 51.55 inches

Local Weather Alerts: Flash Flood Watch in effect until Thurs. at 1 a.m.

Alabama River Stage at Claiborne Lock and Dam (gage height in feet):
Today: 7.44 feet
Yesterday: 7.77 feet
Change: -0.33 feet
Flood Stage: 42.0 feet

NOTES: Today is the 242nd day of 2012 and the 71st day of Summer. There are 124 days left in the year.

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. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How many of these 'Most Sought After Out-of-Print Books' have you read?

Earlier this week, the good people at BookFinder.com put out their yearly list of “100 Most Sought After Out-of-Print Books.”

This year marks the tenth year in which BookFinder.com has released such a list, which it compiles annually based on searches on its Web site during the previous 12 months.

Before I get to the list, allow me a few words about out-of-print books. In essence, an out-of-print book is a book that is no longer available for sale or distribution or is a book that is difficult to find because the only copies remaining exist in libraries, private collections or archives. In other words, these books are rare and difficult to get your hands on. According to BookFinder.com, 98 to 99 percent of all books ever published are now out of print.

BookFinder.com, which was founed in 1997, comes into play because it mainly serves as a search engine of over 150 million books that are for sale, including used, rare and out-of-print books held by booksellers in over 50 countries.

Without further ado, here is BookFinder.com’s “Top 100 Most Sought-After Out-of-Print Books in 2012” list.

1. “Sex” by Madonna
2. “Rage” by Stephen King
3. “Promise Me Tomorrow” by Nora Roberts
4. “My Pretty Pony” by Stephen King
5. “Pure, White and Deadly: The Problem of Sugar” by John Yudkin

6. “Mandingo” by Kyle Onstott
7. “Man in Black” by Johnny Cash
8. “Codex Seraphinianus” by Luigi Serafini
9. “365 Bedtime Stories” by Nan Gilbert
10. “Tudor Roses” by Alice Starmore

11. “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” by Cameron Crowe
12. “A Treasury of Great Recipes” by Mary and Vincent Price
13. “Dark Carnival” by Ray Bradbury
14. “The Jerusalem Bible,” illustrated by Ray Bradbury
15. “Sisters” by Lynne Cheney

16. “Arithmetic Progress Papers” by H. Henry Thomas
17. “Beyond the Plough” by Janet Woods
18. “Labyrinth: A Novel” by A.C.H. Smith
19. “In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting” by Ray Garton
20. “I Go Pogo” by Walt Kelly

21. “Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles” by Linda Dawson and Terry Furchgott
22. “Advise and Consent” by Allen Drury
23. “The Centurions” by Jean Larteguy
24. “Fly Fishing: Memories of Angling Days” by J.R. Hartley
25. “Little Witch” by Anna Elizabeth Bennett

26. “Collector’s Guide to Colt .45 Service Pistols” by W. Clawson
27. “Reflections of Nero: Culture, History and Representation” by Jas Elsner
28. “The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition” by C.S. Lewis
29. “The Bishop’s Wife” by Robert Nathan
30. “Ilsa” by Madeleine L’Engle

31. “Reluctant King: The Life and Reign of George VI, 1895-1952” by Sarah Bradford
32. “Murmurs of Earth” by Carl Sagan
33. “Cards As Weapons” by Ricky Jay
34. “British Battleships of World War II” by Alan Raven and John Roberts
35. “Book of Indians” by Clancy Holling

36. “Halloween” by Curtis Richards
37. “Good Vibes” by Jay Cronley
38. “The Golden Book of the Civil War” by Charles Flato
39. “Ticket to Ride” by Dennis Potter
40. “Hell, I Was There” by Elmer Keith

41. “House of Bondage” by Ernest Cole
42. “The Pink Dress” by Anne Alexander
43. “The Big Country” by Donald Hamilton
44. “Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank” by R.P. Hunnicutt
45. “Big League Sales Closing Techniques” by Les Dane

46. “A Payroll to Meet: A Story of Greed, Corruption and Football at SMU” by David Whitford
47. “Too Good to be Threw” by Kate Holmes
48. “A Treasury of American Prints” by Thomas Craven
49. “To Drop a Dime” by Paul Hoffman
50. “Country Landscapes in Watercolor” by John Blockley

51. “Crochet Lace: An Illustrated Guide to Making Crochet Lace Fabrics” by Mary Konior
52. “The Glass of Fashion” by Cecil Beaton
53. “The Act of Creation” by Arthur Koestler
54. “Bowman of Crecy” by Ronald Welch
55. “The Windflower” by Laura London

56. “The Bishop’s Wife” by Robert Nathan
57. “The King Ranch” by Tom Lea
58. “The Assembly Line” by Milt Tenopir
59. “Practical Gunsmithing” by Edward Matunas
60. “Tellers of Tales: 100 Short Stories from the United States, England, France, Russia and Germany” by W. Somerset Maugham

61. “Eve of the End” by Allan D. Richter
62. “Mastering Atmosphere and Mood in Watercolor: The Critical Ingredients that Turn Paintings into Art” by Joseph Zbukvic
63. “The Star Conquerors” by Ben Bova
64. “Second Sight” by David Williams
65. “Covenant with Death” by John Harris

66. “The Blood Star” by Nicholas Guild
67. “McCoys: Their Story as Told to the Author by Eye Witnesses and Descendants” by Truda Williams McCoy and Leonard Roberts
68. “The Magic Talisman” by John Blaine
69. “The House Without Windows” by Barbara Newhall Follett
70. “The Vision and Beyond: Prophecies Fulfilled and Still to Come” by David Wilkerson

71. “Pancakes A to Z” by Marie Simmons
72. “She Is The Darkness” by Glen Cook
73. “Cyborg” by Martin Caidin
74. “Currier & Ives: Printmakers to the American People” by Harry Twyford Peters
75. “The Wonderful Fashion Doll” by Laura Bannon

76. “Jennie” by Paul Gallico
77. “The Bumper Book: A Harvest of Stories and Verses” by Watt Piper
78. “The Modern Gunsmith” by James Virgil Howe
79. “DRUM” by Kyle Onstott
80. “Birds of Britain” by John D. Green

81. “Carriage Entrance” by Polan Banks
82. “The Septuagint Bible” by Charles Thomson
83. “Basic Building Data: 10,000 Timeless Construction Facts” by Don Graf
84. “Notations” by John Cage
85. “Apple Pigs” by Ruth Orbach

86. “The Ideal Community City” by Alexei Gutnov
87. “Coal” by J. Jason Grant
88. “A Treasury of Grand Opera” by Henry W. Simon
89. “War in the Modern Great Power System, 1495-1975” by Jack S. Levy
90. “Our Journey in the Life” by Doyle C. Barnes

91. “Approaches to Translation” by Peter Newmark
92. “The Black Sun” by Kyle Onstott and Lance Homer
93. “Turkish Delight” by Jan Wolkers
94. “Almonds and Raisins” by Maisie Mosco
95. “Alvin Fog, Texas Ranger” by John Thomas Edson

96. “Basic Medical Laboratory Subjects” by Hugh Woosley
97. “Hand and Rod Puppets: A Handbook of Technique” by Hansjurgen Fettig
98. “The Lost Boys” by Craig Shaw Gardner
99. “102 Favorite Paintings” by Norman Rockwell
100. “The Imperialists” by William Stuart Long

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

(To learn more about the books mentioned above or to see earlier rare books lists, visit BookFinder.com’s Web site at www.bookfinder.com.)

Daily Weather Observations for Tues., Aug. 28, 2012

Temp: 74.8 degrees F (23.8 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 85 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Mostly cloudy; birds audible; dew on the ground, small mushrooms visible in the grass; some security lights still on in the distance.

Winds: 3.3 mph out of the Northeast.

Barometric Pressure: 29.34 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.7 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 51.4 inches

Local Weather Alerts: Flash Flood Watch in effect until Thurs. at 1 a.m.

Alabama River Stage at Claiborne Lock and Dam (gage height in feet):
Today: 7.77 feet
Yesterday: 8.72 feet
Change: -0.95 feet
Flood Stage: 42.0 feet

NOTES: Today is the 241st day of 2012 and the 70th day of Summer. There are 125 days left in the year.

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. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Monday, August 27, 2012

BUCKET LIST UPDATE – No. 223: Take the Camden walking tour

I scratched another item off my bucket list Saturday morning when I took the Camden Walking Tour.

Incorporated in 1841, Camden is the county seat of Wilcox County, Ala. It’s an old, Southern town of about 2,200 residents and is perhaps best known for being the birthplace of baseball legend Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron. Wilcox County has the reputation for being a sportsman’s paradise and is notable for having more miles of river frontage than any other county in Alabama.

I first heard about the historic walking tour over a year ago when I read a story about it in Camden’s newspaper, The Wilcox Progressive-Era. I made a few enquiries and eventually my friend David Johnson, who lives and works in Camden, provided me with a copy of the tour brochure. If memory serves me correctly he either got it from the Wilcox County Library or the Wilcox County Chamber of Commerce. The tour was developed by Nick Baggett as part of his Eagle Scout service project.

I arrived in Camden early Saturday morning and parked on Fail Street beside the Camden Baptist Church, near the corner of Broad Street and across from the Camden Cemetery. The tour consists of mainly two parts, that is, it guides you by several historic buildings on Broad Street and takes you through the cemetery, highlighting the numerous important figures from Camden’s history that are buried there.

Planning to finish the tour in the cemetery, I took a look at the old buildings along Broad Street first. Across from the Camden Baptist Church sits the Wilcox Female Institute building. Incorporated in 1850 as a “boarding school for Southern young ladies,” the school closed in 1910. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, now serves as the headquarters for the Wilcox Historical Society.

Just down the street from there sits the Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church building. Built in 1849, it’s the only church in Camden that predates the Civil War. According to brochure, the building is now a private residence.

The next building down Broad Street is my personal favorite, the Dale Masonic Lodge building. Housing Dale Lodge No. 25, which was organized in 1825 at Dale Town, the cornerstone of this building was laid in November 1848. According to the brochure, Union troops camped at this site while passing through Camden in April 1865.

From there, I walked back up Broad Street to the Camden Cemetery, which dates way back to the early 1800s. Just inside the entrance sits the impressive Confederate Memorial Statue, which was erected in April 1880. Built to honor the Confederate dead from Wilcox County, the monument originally cost $1,064.39 and was erected by the Ladies’ Memorial and Wilcox Monument Association.

The rest of the tour takes you through the cemetery and past the graves of many notable Wilcox County residents, including:

· William R.K. and Franklin K. Beck, the nephews of U.S. vice president William Rufus King;

· Margaret Beck, sister of U.S. vice president William Rufus King;

· Dr. John Daniel Caldwell, Camden’s first mayor who named the town after Camden, S.C. He was a survivor of the famous Orline St. John riverboat fire.

· Delitha Cook, the wife of Zo Cook, the probate judge who saved county records during the Civil War and who was the son of Enoch Cook, who had more sons in the Confederacy than any other man, 10 sons and grandsons;

· Alexander Bragg, builder of the Wilcox County Courthouse and brother to General Braxton Bragg;

· Thomas Dunn, Camden pioneer and founder, who donated 12 acres of his land to Wilcox County in 1832;

· Joseph Gilmore, a four-year-old boy who, according to his tombstone, was “intentionally drowned by a family servant” in 1853;

· James Hawthorne, Civil War soldier who won the Southern Cross of Honor, fought at Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Atlanta and Bentonville;

· Ebenezer Hearn, a Methodist preacher and veteran of the War of 1812, builder of the historic home, Gaines Ridge, which is now a famous restaurant;

· William Brutus Howard, a famous lawyer, political speaker and writer, who died in 1876;

· Richard Channing Jones, former University of Alabama Chancellor who died in 1903;

· Emmett Kilpatrick, a presidential interpreter and Red Cross official who was taken prisoner during the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and held in a Russian prison camp;

· Benjamin Meek Miller, former governor of Alabama who died in 1944;

· Lt. Joseph M. Wilcox, who is actually buried at Claiborne, a native of Connecticut and War of 1812 veteran, tomahawked and scalped by a Creek war party in 1814, Wilcox County was named in his memory in 1819.

One of the more interesting graves in the cemetery is a pile of bricks near the entrance that marks what is believed to be a mass grave where the victims of the Orline St. John riverboat fire were laid to rest. About 120 people were onboard the riverboat on March 1, 1850 when sparks from a furnace ignited a fire that sank the Montgomery-bound riverboat. Forty people died in the accident, including all women and children on board. The incident was reported worldwide at the time.

After the cemetery portion of the tour, I hopped back in my truck and rode downtown. I parked just off the town square, across the street across from the Matthews Hardware Co. building, and got out to get a closer look at the Old Wilcox County Courthouse building. Built in 1857-58, this building now houses the Wilcox County Public Library, which is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In the end, I enjoyed scratching another item off my bucket list. Special thanks to David Johnson for getting me a copy of the tour brochure.

How many of you have ever been to Camden, Ala.? How many of you have taken the Camden Walking Tour? What did you think about it? Have you taken any other historic walking tours that you would recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

(For those of you interested in taking the Camden walking tour for yourself, you can download a copy of the tour brochure at http://www.wilcoxareachamber.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/walkingtourbrochure_camdenv1.pdf.)

Yesterday's News from The Evergreen Courant for Aug. 27, 2012

FIVE YEARS AGO
AUG. 30, 2007

“If things go according to plan, the voters of Conecuh County will get the chance to let the county commission know how they feel about a proposed landfill in February.
“During a meeting of the commission Monday morning at the Conecuh County Government Center in Evergreen, the commission voted 4-1 to request that the state legislature place the question over the landfill on county ballots in February 2008.”

“Alabama Gov. Bob Riley will name a new revenue commissioner for Conecuh County sometime within the next two weeks, officials said on Tuesday.
“Conecuh County Revenue Commissioner Terry Sullivan recently announced his retirement, and his last official day on the job will be Sept. 30, officials said.”

“The Conecuh County Board of Education took a few minutes Monday night to tip their hats to one of their own by recognizing board member Willene Whatley for her service.
“Board Chairman David Cook presented Whatley with a plaque from the trustees of Alabama Risk Management For School (ARMS) for service she has rendered to our schools statewide as a trustee of ARMS.”

“John A. Nielsen of Evergreen, pictured with Evergreen Rotary Club member Nell Stuart, spoke to the club last Thursday afternoon at the Evergreen Golf Club. Nielsen spoke to the club about the Liberation of the Philippines during World War II. Nielsen visited the Philippines in early August, and presented a slideshow from the trip to club members.”

20 YEARS AGO
AUG. 27, 1992

“One of the founding members of what would grow to become the Conecuh County Volunteer Fire Control Association died Tuesday afternoon after a lengthy illness.
“Mr. Lois Reeves, who along with Billy Mims, Bill Hart, Matthew Davis and Lawrence Ryals, pushed for a combined effort in Conecuh County to make his dream come true… a volunteer fire association which would provide better protection for the county’s citizens.
“Mr. Reeves, 74, died Tues., Aug. 25, 1992 at the Mobile Infirmary. For months, he had valiantly battled prostate cancer.”

“Weatherman Harry Ellis reports .61 of an inch of rain on Aug. 19, .71 on Aug. 20, .01 on Aug. 21, .01 on Aug. 22 and .04 on Aug. 23.”

“Public school children in Conecuh County received an extra day of summer vacation thanks to Hurricane Andrew.
“According to Superintendent of Education Steve Coker, Conecuh County Emergency Management Director Billy Mims ‘requisitioned’ two of the system’s buildings to be used as emergency shelters.
“According to Mims, state EMA officials directed him to open shelters in Conecuh County as a precaution to house evacuees from Mississippi and Louisiana fleeing the wrath of Hurricane Andrew. Mims said hotels and camp sites along Interstate 65 were full as far north as Montgomery by noon Tuesday.”

35 YEARS AGO
AUG. 25, 1977

“Earl Windham reports two inches of rainfall on Thurs., Aug. 18.”

“The people of Conecuh County and surrounding area were shocked and grieved by the tragic death of Gary Earl Geck, 26, of Castleberry who was killed when his cropdusting airplane crashed Saturday.
“Geck, owner and operator of Geck’s Flying Service, left his base at Evergreen’s municipal airport, Middleton Field, Saturday morning to spray.
“When Geck had not returned at three o’clock, (Evergreen Aviation manager George) Simpson notified authorities.
“(Searchers) located the crashed airplane at 5:50 p.m. in a wooded area on the Appleton Road in the southwestern section of Conecuh County.”

“Captain Frederick Mitchell Stevens, whose parents are Mr. and Mrs. Ray G. Stevens of 407 N. Main, Evergreen, Ala., has received the Meritorious Service Medal at Sembach AB, Germany.
“Captain Stevens was cited for outstanding duty performance as squadron administration management officer and squadron commander with the 3350th Technical Training Group at Chanute AFB, Ill.
“Captain Stevens, a 1964 graduate of Evergreen High School, received his B.S. degree in 1968 from Troy State University and was commissioned in 1973 through Officer Training School, Lackland AFB, Texas.”

50 YEARS AGO
AUG. 30, 1962

“The runway lights are on again at Evergreen’s Laula Middleton Field, according to City Clerk Miller Sellers.
“The field was re-lighted with a state-federal aid grant about two years ago. The modern lighting system went out when a supply cable was accidentially severed some weeks ago.
“Sellers said that repairs have been completed and the lights once more are in working order.”

“Climax of a huge school improvement and consolidation program by the Conecuh County Board of Education was reached last Thursday by the board of the closing of Brockton and Brooklyn schools for white children.”

“Nearly 5,000 Conecuh County pupils will return to classrooms on Thurs., Sept. 13, according to County Superintendent of Education Guy S. Kelly.”

“Miss Pattie McGehee has returned from a visit with friends in Seattle, Wash., and the World’s Fair. She also visited San Francisco, Calif.”

“Palmer Smith is pending two weeks with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. V.P. Smith. He will begin his senior year in the School of Pharmacy at Howard College in September.”

“Alice Gafford has purchased Harvey Pate’s Variety Store on East Front Street and now operates under the name, The Thrift Shop. Of course, this is at Tom Dunn’s old stand between Evergreen Grocery and Cash Market.”

65 YEARS AGO
AUG. 28, 1947

“Friends of Robert Gaston Bozeman Jr. will be pleased to learn that he is doing nicely after undergoing an appendectomy at Carter’s Hospital in Repton last week.”

“Mrs. F.L. Cardwell, who was bitten on the ankle by a rattlesnake Saturday afternoon is reported to be fast recovering.”

“Life Saving and Water Safety Course to begin tonight at Binion’s Pool. The boy scouts or any one interested in taking this course will meet at the City School at 6:45. For other details, contact Cliff Harper or Paul McMillan.”

“Superintendent of Schools, Harvey G. Pate, wishes to remind all patrons of Conecuh County Schools that the old law, providing that children may enter schools in the fall if they will reach their sixth birthday before Oct. 1, still remains in effect.
“All schools in Conecuh County, both Negro and White, will open on Sept. 8, 1947.”

“There will be a square dance to which Evergreen citizens are invited to attend in Andalusia at the Armory Hall Friday night, Aug. 29.”

“A series of burglaries have been reported during the past week or so by citizens living in various sections of the city. In most instances reported, cash was taken from pockets and billfolds of the victims. So far no arrests have been made by the officers. Investigations are underway however, and it is hoped that the culprit or culprits may be soon apprehended.”

Daily Weather Observations for Mon., Aug. 27, 2012

Temp: 69.1 degrees F (20.6 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 80 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Thin, trace, scattered clouds visible; birds and bees audible and visible; dew on the ground, small mushrooms visible in the grass.

Winds: 1.3 mph out of the North.

Barometric Pressure: 29.53 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.7 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 51.4 inches

Local Weather Alerts: Hurricane Warning issued for Gulf States.

Alabama River Stage at Claiborne Lock and Dam (gage height in feet):
Today: 8.72 feet
Yesterday: 8.74 feet
Change: -0.02 feet
Flood Stage: 42.0 feet

NOTES: Today is the 240th day of 2012 and the 69th day of Summer. There are 126 days left in the year.

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. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

David Baldacci's 'Zero Day' claims top spot on best-sellers list

It’s Sunday, so that means that it’s time for my weekly breakdown of this week’s Publishers Weekly Best-Seller List. According to the list, there are two new books at the top of the four major best-sellers lists this week.

"The Amateur" by Edward Klein replaced "Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck" by Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington and Tsun-Yan Hsieh as the top book on the hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list.

"Zero Day" by David Baldacci replaced "Don't Blink" by James Patterson as the No. 1 book on the mass market paperback best-sellers list.

"Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn retained the No. 1 spot on the hardcover fiction best-sellers list for the third week in a row.

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

There are three books on this week’s hardcover fiction best-sellers list that weren’t on that list last week. They (along with their place on the list) include "The Inn at Rose Harbor: A Novel" by Debbie Macomber (2), "The Kingmaker's Daughter" by Phillippa Gregory (7) and "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller (15).

There are seven books on this week’s hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They include "Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream" by Dinesh D'Souza (2), "Topgrading, 3rd Edition: The Proven Hiring and Promoting Method That Turbocharges Company Performance" by Bradford D. Smart (3), "Solo: A Memoir of Hope" by Hope Solo (7), "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History" by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice (10), "The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business" by Patrick Lencioni (12), "Paris: A Love Story" by Kati Marton (14) and "The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now!" by Mark Hyman M.D. (15).

There are two books on this week’s mass market paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They include "Zero Day" by David Baldacci (1) and "Death Benefit" by Robin Cook (15).

There are three new books on this week’s trade paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They include "Beautiful Disaster: A Novel" by Jamie McGuire (6), "Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes & Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week" by Melissa d' Arabian (9) and "Every Day a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week" by Joel Osteen (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. "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn
2. "The Inn at Rose Harbor: A Novel" by Debbie Macomber
3. "Friends Forever" by Danielle Steel
4. "Odd Apocalypse" by Dean R. Koontz
5. "Where We Belong" by Emily Giffin
6. "Black List: A Thriller" by Brad Thor
7. "The Kingmaker's Daughter" by Phillippa Gregory
8. "I, Michael Bennett" by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
9. "The Fallen Angel" by Daniel Silva
10. "The Spymasters" by W.E.B. Griffin
11. "Sweet Talk" by Julie Garwood
12. "Shadow of Night" by Deborah E. Harkness
13. "You Don't Want to Know" by Lisa Jackson
14. "Backfire" by Catherine Coulter
15. "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "The Amateur" by Edward Klein
2. "Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream" by Dinesh D'Souza
3. "Topgrading, 3rd Edition" by Bradford D. Smart
4. "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed
5. "Wheat Belly" by William Davis
6. "Killing Lincoln" by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard
7. "Solo: A Memoir of Hope" by Hope Solo
8. "Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child" by Bob Spitz
9. "Double Cross" by Ben Macintyre
10. "American Sniper" by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
11. "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson
12. "The Advantage" by Patrick Lencioni
13. "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg
14. "Paris: A Love Story" by Kati Marton
15. "The Blood Sugar Solution" by Mark Hyman M.D.

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "Zero Day" by David Baldacci
2. "Don't Blink" by James Patterson
3. "Happy Birthday" by Danielle Steel
4. "Celebrity in Death" by J.D. Robb
5. "Big Sky Mountain" by Linda Lael Miller
6. "Love in a Nutshell" by Janet Evanovich
7. "The Litigators" by John Grisham
8. "Happy Ever After" by Nora Roberts
9. "Lethal" by Sandra Brown
10. "Catching Fireflies" by Sherryl Woods
11. "All Summer Long" by Susan Mallery
12. "Safe Haven" by Nicholas Sparks
13. "Wild Texas Rose" by Jodi Thomas
14. "The Wedding Party" by Robyn Carr
15. "Death Benefit" by Robin Cook

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 Best of Me" by Nicholas Sparks
5. "Bared to You" by Sylvia Day
6. "Beautiful Disaster: A Novel" by Jamie McGuire
7. "To Heaven And Back" by Mary C. Neal
8. "11/22/63" by Stephen King
9. "Ten Dollar Dinners" by Melissa d' Arabian
10. "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Lawson
11. "Switch" by Megan Hart
12. "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern
13. "Farenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury
14. "The Litigators" by John Grisham
15. "Every Day a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week" by Joel Osteen

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., Aug. 26, 2012

Temp: 70.9 degrees F (21.6 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 80 percent (Humid)

Conditions: A beautiful morning with clear skies and bright sunshine; birds and bees audible and visible; horse audible; dew on the ground.

Winds: 0.0 mph (No wind)

Barometric Pressure: 29.63 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.5 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.7 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 51.4 inches

Local Weather Alerts: Hurricane Watch issued for Gulf States.

Alabama River Stage at Claiborne Lock and Dam (gage height in feet):
Today: 8.74 feet
Yesterday: 8.49 feet
Change: +0.25 feet
Flood Stage: 42.0 feet

NOTES: Today is the 239th day of 2012 and the 68th day of Summer. There are 127 days left in the year.

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. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What do YOU think about 'The Hunger Games' movie, novel?

I finally got around to watching “The Hunger Games” movie the other day, and I really enjoyed it.

It reminded me of two Stephen King novels, “The Running Man” and “The Long Walk.” It also had strong hints of Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery” and William Shakespeare’s famous play, “Romeo and Juliet.” That's not bad company to be in.

Released on March 12, this PG-13 science fiction movie stars Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland and Josh Hutcherson. Directed by Gary Ross, this 142-minute movie is set in the dystopian nation of Panem. Each year, 24 youngsters are selected from among the country’s 12 districts to battle to the death in what’s called “The Hunger Games.” These brutal games are televised live for all of Panem’s citizens to watch, kind of like a mix of "American Gladiator" and "Survivor." In “The Hunger Games” movie, the story focuses on a 16-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen, a skilled archer who must rely on her wits to survive.

To say that this movie was a blockbuster would be putting it mildly. Shot on a budget of $78 million, it posted box office revenues of over $684 million. It has also garnered a number of awards. It was nominated for Movie of the Year at the 2012 MTV Movie Awards and won the Choice Movie: Sci-Fi/Fantasy at the 2012 Teen Choice Awards. Keep in mind that this movie only came out five months ago, so more than likely it’ll win a bunch of other awards on into next year.

This movie was based on the novel, “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, and the movie definitely made me want to read the book. Published by Scholastic Press in September 2008, “The Hunger Games” is the first novel in a trilogy about the same characters. The second book in the series is “Catching Fire,” which came out in September 2009, and “Mockingjay,” which hit the streets in August 2010.

My wife read all three books, and she enjoyed them. She has good taste in books, so I suspect that she’s right, especially considering how good “The Hunger Games” movie was. Also, quite naturally, I’ve had people who’ve read the book tell me that it was actually better than the movie. To me, that says a lot because I thought the movie was pretty good.

Those of you who enjoyed “The Hunger Games” movie will be pleased to hear that there are plans for three movies based on “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay.” The “Catching Fire” movie will be released in November 2013. “Mockingjay” will be split into two separate movies, set for release in November 2014 and November 2015. In other words, fans of the movies who haven’t had time to read the books have got plenty of time to get caught up. Anyone out there got copies of all three that I can borrow?

In the end, I enjoyed this movie and will probably read the book. What did you think about it? Did you like it or not? Why? Have you read the novel? Would you recommend it? Why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Daily Weather Observations for Sat., Aug. 25, 2012

Temp: 69.8 degrees F (21.0 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 83 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Mostly cloudy; birds and bees audible and visible; dew on the ground, small mushrooms visible in the grass.

Winds: 0.1 mph out of the East.

Barometric Pressure: 29.58 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.5 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.7 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 51.4 inches

Local Weather Alerts: None.

Alabama River Stage at Claiborne Lock and Dam (gage height in feet):
Today: 8.49 feet
Yesterday: 8.99 feet
Change: -0.5 feet
Flood Stage: 42.0 feet

NOTES: Today is the 238th day of 2012 and the 67th day of Summer. There are 128 days left in the year.

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. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Which of the 'Hellboy' trade paperback collections is your favorite?

I’m a big fan of the two, live-action “Hellboy” movies (“Hellboy” and “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”), and a few months ago I set out to read all of the “Hellboy” trade paperback collections.

A week or so ago, I scratched one more of these books off my list – “Hellboy, Vol. 6: Strange Places.”

Earlier this year, I finished “Hellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction, “Hellboy, Vol. 2: Wake the Devil,” “Hellboy, Vol. 3: The Chained Coffin and Others,” “Hellboy, Vol. 4: The Right Hand of Doom” and “Hellboy, Vol. 5: Conquer Worm.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the Hellboy character, he’s a comic book superhero with red skin, horns, a tail and an unusual, oversized right hand made of stone. Known as the “World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator,” he works for the United States Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. He does seem to have a few superpowers. He’s abnormally strong and appears to heal quickly among other things. He was created by writer and artist Mike Mignola, and most of the Hellboy comics have been published by Dark Horse Comics.

“Strange Places” was published by Dark Horse Comics in April 2006 and contains two Hellboy stories, “The Third Wish” and “The Island.” “The Third Wish” was originally published as a two-issue mini-series in the summer of 2002. “The Island,” which was also published as a two-issue mini-series, followed three years later, in the summer of 2005. The first Hellboy movie was released in 2004 between these two mini-series, which explains the long gap between the two stories.

In “The Third Wish,” Hellboy finds himself on an adventure at the bottom of the sea, where he’s captured by an old hag and three mermaids. They plan to hack him up and hide his infamous Right Hand to prevent the end of the world. In the end, Hellboy isn’t dismembered, but he is held prisoner for a long time, around two years.

In “The Island,” Hellboy washes up on an island, where his blood wakes up this really old mystic. The blood drives the man insane, and he unsuccessfully tries to duke it out with Hellboy. Both of these stories were highly entertaining.

Of the five Hellboy trade paperback collections that I’ve read so far, I’d have to say that “Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others” was probably my favorite. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy all six.

By my count, I’ve got six more trade paperback collections to read before I can say that I’ve read them all. Here a list of the other titles in order of their release.

- Hellboy, Vol. 7: The Troll Witch and Others (November 2007)

- Hellboy, Vol. 8: Darkness Calls (May 2008)

- Hellboy, Vol. 9: The Wild Hunt (March 2010)

- Hellboy, Vol. 10: The Crooked Man and Others (June 2010)

- Hellboy, Vol. 11: The Bride of Hell and Others (October 2011)

- Hellboy, Vol. 12: The Storm and the Fury (March 2012)

In the end, how many of these trade paperback collections have you had the chance to read? Which did you like or dislike and why? Which is your personal favorite and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Daily Weather Observations for Fri., Aug. 24, 2012

Temp: 69.1 degrees F (20.6 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 82 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Partly cloudy; birds and bees audible and visible; dew on the ground, small mushrooms visible in the grass; light fog visible in the distance.

Winds: 0.0 mph (No wind)

Barometric Pressure: 29.59 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.5 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.7 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 51.4 inches

Local Weather Alerts: None.

Alabama River Stage at Claiborne Lock and Dam (gage height in feet):
Today: 8.99 feet
Yesterday: 9.88 feet
Change: -0.89 feet
Flood Stage: 42.0 feet

NOTES: Today is the 237th day of 2012 and the 66th day of Summer. There are 129 days left in the year.

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. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Magic Eight Ball answers your yes or no questions

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

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

Raymond asked: Will the City of Evergreen actually get to hold its municipal elections on Aug. 28?
Answer: No way!

Dewayne asked: Will Pete Wolff win without a runoff?
Answer: Ask again later?

George asked: Will there be a big lawsuit over the outcome of the election like there was last time?
Answer: Maybe.

Michael asked: Will the lawyers involved be the only people to come out ahead when it’s all said and done?
Answer: My sources said no.

Willie asked: Will Evergreen’s incoming Bubba’s Barbecue restaurant be the best barbecue restaurant around?
Answer: Absolutely!

Pat asked: Will Castleberry’s new police chief be still employed by the town a year from now?
Answer: Ask again later.

Kevin asked: Will the Conecuh County Commission, the City of Evergreen and the Conecuh County Sheriff come to an agreement over the municipal inmate contract?
Answer: Maybe.

John asked: Will the Conecuh County Commission restructure the County E911 board of directors?
Answer: Absolutely!

Jerry asked: Will Sparta’s football team win its season opener against Pickens Academy?
Answer: My sources say no.

Stewart asked: Will Hillcrest win its first game against Washington County?
Answer: No way!

Charles asked: Will A.J. McCarron suffer from the “Sports Illustrated Curse” since he was on the cover of SI this week?
Answer: Absolutely!

I asked: Should readers take the above questions and answers seriously?
Answer: Maybe.

With that said, I guess I’ll give my old Eight Ball a rest for a few weeks and close this thing out until the third Thursday in August.

In the meantime, if you’ve got a question you want me to ask my Magic Eight Ball, e-mail it to me at courantsports@earthlink.net, and I’ll publish the answers in the Aug. 16 edition of The Courant.

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Also this week, the good folks at the state tourism department released its list of Top 10 Events of September. If you’re looking for something fun to do next month, you might want to check out one of these events.

Events that made the cut include the St. William Seafood Festival in Guntersville, Sept. 1; the Sweet Tater Festival in Crane Hill, Sept. 2-3; the Coon Dog Cemetery Labor Day Celebration in Tuscumbia, Sept. 3; the 43rd Annual Fayette Arts Festival, Sept. 8; the Riverfest Barbecue Cook-Off in Decatur, Sept. 14-15; the Depot Days Festival in Hartselle, Sept. 15; the Leeds Downtown Folk Festival and John Henry Celebration in Leeds, Sept. 15-16; the Mule Day Festival in Winfield, Sept. 21-23; the 12th Annual Ole Timey Craft & Bluegrass Festival in Estillfork, Sept. 28-30; and the 25th Annual Irondale Whistle Stop Festival, Sept. 29.

Sparta Academy kicks off 42nd football season tomorrow night

Sparta Academy will kick off the 2012 varsity football season tomorrow (Friday) when the Warriors travel to Carrollton to take on Pickens Academy.

Sparta currently has the oldest existing football program in the county, and tomorrow night’s game will officially mark the start of the 42nd season of football at the school.

Tomorrow night’s game will be the 439th all-time football game in the school’s history. Sparta enters that game with an all-time record of 205-229-4. Interestingly, in all those games, Sparta has never played Pickens in football. In other words, tomorrow night’s game will be the first ever meeting between the two schools in football.

Tomorrow night’s game will also mark the regular season coaching debut for head coach Buck Quarles at Sparta. Quarles is the 18th all-time head football coach at Sparta, where head coaches last less than 2-1/2 seasons on average. Past head coaches at the school include Jack Akins, Mike Bledsoe, Richard Brown, Robert Cumbie, Clint Floyd, Michael Gaylor, Mickey Goneke, Donnie Griggers, Don Hand, Rob Kelly, Chuck Ledbetter, Clint Lowery, Bill McNair, Mike Sims, Gerry Watson, Daniel Wilson and Keith York.

Quarles replaces long-time head coach Mike Bledsoe, who was the winningest head football coach in the school’s history. Bledsoe served as the school’s head coach four different times – 1976 to 1977, 1986 to 1988, 1990 to 1994 and 2010 to 2011. During those years, he won 60 games altogether, more than any other coach at the school. He also served as Lyeffion High School’s head football coach from 1981 to 1985.

This season, Sparta will compete in the AISA’s Class A, Region 2. The AISA first split into classes in 1976, and Sparta has traditionally be a Class A school. Since 1976, Sparta competed in Class A for 31 seasons.

At times, Sparta has been a Class AA school. They’ve actually played in Class AA twice. They were in Class AA during the 1993 season and from 2004 to 2007. Sparta never made the state playoffs while competing in Class AA.

Fans will have to wait a little while for Sparta’s home-opener at Stuart-McGehee Field in Evergreen. The Warriors aren’t scheduled to play their first home game of the regular season until Fri., Aug. 31, when they will take on Lowndes Academy in Evergreen. Sparta will enter that game with a record of 112-100-2 at Stuart-McGehee Field.

That game will also be the third all-time meeting between Sparta and Lowndes in football. Sparta’s 1-1 all-time against the Rebels, and the last time they played in Evergreen, Sparta won, 38-30. The only time that they played in Lowndesboro, Lowndes won, 33-13.

In the end, everyone here at The Courant is hoping that Sparta will have a safe and successful season this year. Best wishes and good luck this coming season.

(Also, I haven’t forgotten about Hillcrest. Their regular season doesn’t kick off until Aug. 31, so I’ll preview their upcoming season in a similar fashion in this space next week.)

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for Aug. 23, 2012

FOUR YEARS AGO
AUG. 28, 2008

“Hillcrest High School will kick off its 2008 football season tomorrow night when they take on Theodore High School at Brooks Memorial Stadium in Evergreen. Play is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Members of this year’s varsity team are Trevin Fluker, Michael Hall, Leshaun Knight, Davin Dixon, Antoine Carter, Jared Dees, Terrell White, Eother Holder, Keith Richardson and Waynemond Bruce; Phillip Hall, Kwann Peters, Dre Chandler, Kenyan Nettles, William Ferguson, Truvious Spears, Devonte Section, Josh Rankins, James Riley, Anthony Drakeford, Tyrone Lane, Tevin Rudolph, Albert Stallworth and Jeremy Thomas; Derek Smith, Malcolm Rudolph, Justin Nared, Travis Stallworth, Devetrick Rankins, Lawrence Bennett, Rodney McQueen, Shannon Roach, Deonte Lane, Trey Salter, Tarrant Jones, Antonio Jordan and Devin Carlis; Earnest Williams, Quenton Nettles, Justin Watson, Terrence Thomas, Alexander Nevlous, Vincent Randleson, Prince Salter, Dexter Chatman, Destin Gross and Malcolm Jackson.”

“Sparta blanks Escambia, 35-0: CANOE – Simply put, it was Sparta Academy’s biggest win ever over one of its longest running rivals.
“Friday night, Sparta Academy opened the season by beating long time rival, Escambia Academy, 35-0, to give the Warriors their biggest ever win over the Cougars and breaking a five-game losing streak against Escambia.”

19 YEARS AGO
AUG. 26, 1993

“The 1993 Sparta Academy Warriors will open their season here Friday night against the Crenshaw Christian Academy Cougars. The kick-off at Stuart-McGehee Field is set for 7:30 p.m. The coaches for the Warriors this year are Head Coach Mike Bledsoe and Assistant Coaches Headmaster David Clanton, David Mallory and Keith York.”

“WRIGHT ANGLES” by Artie Wright – “This is the column Wayne Peacock has been waiting for… it’s about Auburn football. Not to worry, Wayne, this one may surprise you.
“As everyone around the state ages nine months to 99 years knows by now, the Auburn Tigers football program was placed on two years probation by the NCAA last week. The penalties stem from illegal payments to former Tiger football player Eric Ramsey by coaches and supporters. Everyone knew this day was coming, but reality didn’t set in until last week when the hammer fell.
“Each year I make it a point to boil the blood of Auburn faithful with jokes and quips about their favorite team. It has become traditional with me. But this column is a little different.
“The only NCAA penalty which is meaningful is the sanctions placed against Troy State head coach Larry Blakeney. He admittedly took part in giving $500 cash to Ramsey. His error followed him from the Plains to the Wiregrass area. Everyone else who is being punished is innocent.
“Those punished are the fans of the Tigers and the current players.”

34 YEARS AGO
AUG. 24, 1978

“Football season arrives in Evergreen Friday night, Aug. 25, when the Evergreen Aggies open their season against Southern Choctaw High School of Silas at 7:30 p.m. in Brooks Stadium.
“The following is a tentative offensive and defensive lineup for Friday night and a schedule of Aggies games.
“Offense: QB, M. Adams; LH, S. Moye; FB, M. Phillips; RH, C. Middleton; TE, T. Rabb; RT, W. Locke; RG, W. Parker; C, T. Weaver; LG, E. Edeker; LT, K. Rabb; SE, J. Stowers.
“Defense: Ends, Garvey Freeman, Terrel Rabb; Tackles, Tracy Weaver, Warren Locke; Nose Guard, Keith Rabb; Linebackers, Wendel Parker, Mark Phillips, Calvin Middleton; Cornerbacks, Greg Thomas, Melvin Pitts; Safety, David Crosby.”

“The Sparta Academy Warriors put the finishing touches on their pre-season workouts early this week as preparation for their opening game with Greenville Academy’s Tornadoes in Greenville on Saturday night neared an end yesterday.
“New head coach Rob Kelly and assistant coach Bo Owens are building their 1978 team around a nucleus of 10 returning lettermen from the 1977 club.
“Returning lettermen include these seniors: Bill Cope, tackle; Greg Anthony, linebacker; Bobby Padgett, tackle; Tommy Hutcheson, end; Tony Raines, end; and Tony Baggett, halfback. Junior lettermen are Terry Peacock, quarterback; Greg Crabtree, guard; and Cook Morrison, defensive end.
“Other members of the squad are Ira Cook, a junior; sophomores Jeff Johnson, Bobby Mason, Scott Baggett, Jeff Hutcheson and Mike Raines; and freshmen Robert Johnston and Mike Mixon.”

49 YEARS AGO
AUG. 22, 1963

“The Evergreen Quarterback Club will hold its first meeting of the new school year at Evergreen High School tonight at seven o’clock. All members and others interested in the athletic program at the local school are invited and urged to attend.
“QB President Ed Raines states that tonight’s meeting is most important as the club will get organized for the coming year and make plans for the projects to be carried out.”

“LET’S TALK SPORTS” – “Gee, but it’s great to be home. Back to hamburgers, baseball, high prices and American slang. With all its problems, the U.S. is still the world’s greatest country by far.
“The New York Yankees are back to their old tricks of making a shambles of the American League pennant race.
“The Los Angeles Dodgers are fighting a surge of the San Francisco Giants in the National League for the right to meet the Yanks in the World Series. The choice here is L.A.”

64 YEARS AGO
AUG. 26, 1948

“Evergreen High School is well represented on the coaching staff of the southern half of the High School All-Star Game that will be played in Tuscaloosa Friday night. Head coach of the south Alabama team is J.E. (Hot) O’Brien.
“Cliff Harper, formery principal at Evergreen High, is end coach of the squad. Last Thursday, O’Brien sent for Coach Wendell Hart, head coach at E.H.S. to assist in coaching the line. Wendell will probably coach the centers.”

“Cool nights have brought a flurry of football talk, the consensus of which seems to be that Evergreen will have a better team than last year. Well, it won’t be long before we find out just what they do have.
“Practice will start at the high school next Wednesday and exactly three weeks from Friday night Evergreen tangles with the improved Bulldogs of Repton High. One of the season’s largest crowds will probably be here for that one.
“I understand that last year the people over in Repton had to hire a few nightwatchmen from Monroeville to guard the town the night of the Evergreen game… everyone in Repton had gone to Evergreen to see the game.”

“Aggie Gridders Report To First Practice Sept. 1st: Coach Wendell Hart issued a call this week for all football candidates to report to the high school next Wed., Sept. 1, at nine o’clock. The Evergreen High School head coach said that equipment would be issued and practice get underway at once.
“Coach Hart has a big job in front of him to get the team ready for their first game Sept. 17. The Aggies will play the Bulldogs of Repton High in the season opener at Brooks Stadium the night of the 17th.
“All boys who will try for the team are urged to be at the school at nine next Wednesday morning, so that no delays will be encountered. The team will have only about 11 practice days before the game with Repton.”

Daily Weather Observations for Thurs., Aug. 23, 2012

Temp: 66.0 degrees F (18.9 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches.

Humidity: 80 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Partly cloudy; birds and bees audible and visible; dew on the ground, small mushrooms visible in the grass.

Winds: 0.0 mph (No wind)

Barometric Pressure: 29.60 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.5 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.7 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 51.4 inches

Local Weather Alerts: None.

Alabama River Stage at Claiborne Lock and Dam (gage height in feet):
Today: 9.88 feet
Yesterday: 9.63 feet
Change: +0.25 feet
Flood Stage: 42.0 feet

NOTES: Today is the 236th day of 2012 and the 65th day of Summer. There are 130 days left in the year.

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. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This week's movie picks are 'The Apparition' and 'The Dictator'

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:

The Apparition (PG-13, Suspense): Directed by Todd Lincoln and starring Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, Suzanne Ford and Julianna Guill.

General Education (PG-13, Comedy): Directed by Tom Morris and starring Chris Sheffield, Janeane Garofalo, Larry Miller, Maiara Walsh and Elaine Hendrix.

Hit & Run (R, Comedy, Action): Directed by David Palmer and Dax Shepard and starring Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold and Beau Bridges.

Little White Lies (Comedy, Drama): Directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Francois Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Jean Dujardin, Benoit Magimel and Laurent Lafitte.

Premium Rush (PG-13, Action, Suspense): Directed by David Koepp and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung, Aasif Mandvi and Michael Shannon.

Samsara (PG-13, Documentary): Directed by Ron Fricke.

Sleepwalk with Me (Comedy): Directed by Mike Birbiglia and starring Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, James Rebhorn, Carol Kane and Cristin Milioti.

Thunderstruck (PG, Family, Comedy): Directed by Jeff Farley and starring Brandon T. Jackson, Kevin Durant, Taylor Gray, Jim Belushi and William Ragsdale.

Wild Horse, Wild Ride (PG, Documentary): Directed by Alex Dawson and Greg Gricus.

New DVD releases for the week of Aug. 21 include:

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

California Indian (R, Drama): Directed by Timothy Andrew Ramos and starring Gary Farmer, Mark Boone Junior, Timothy Andrew Ramos, Gil Birmingham and Julia Jones.

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

The Dictator (R, Comedy, Romance): Directed by Larry Charles and starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley, John C. Reilly and Megan Fox.

Freelancers (R, Crime, Action): Directed by Jessy Terrero and starring Robert De Niro, Forest Whitaker, Beau Garrett, 50 Cent and Dana Delany.

The Frontier Boys (PG-13, Action, Adventure): Directed by John Grooters and starring Rebecca St. James, Big Kenny Alphin, Earthquake Kelley, Timothy Lofing and Jedidiah Grooters.

Hell (R, Horror, Science Fiction): Directed by Tim Fehlbaum and starring Hannah Herzsprung, Stipe Erceg, Angela Winkler, Michael Kranz and Lars Eidinger.

One in the Chamber (R, Action, Adventure): Directed by William Kaufman and starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Dolph Lundgren and Claudia Bassols.

A Separation (PG-13, Drama): Directed by Asghar Farhadi and starring Peyman Moaadi, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, Shahab Hosseini and Sarina Farhadi.

Shuffle (PG-13, Drama, Suspense): Directed by Kurt Kuenne and starring T.J. Thyne, Paula Rhodes, Chris Stone, Meeghan Holaway and Dylan Sprayberry.

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

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., Aug. 22, 2012

Temp: 68.9 degrees F (20.5 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.05 inches.

Humidity: 81 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Mostly cloudy; birds and bees audible and visible; dew on the ground, small mushrooms visible in the grass.

Winds: 2.6 mph out of the North-Northwest

Barometric Pressure: 29.56 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.5 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.7 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 51.4 inches

Local Weather Alerts: None.

Alabama River Stage at Claiborne Lock and Dam (gage height in feet):
Today: 9.63 feet
Yesterday: 6.51 feet
Change: +3.12 feet
Flood Stage: 42.0 feet

NOTES: Today is the 235th day of 2012 and the 64th day of Summer. There are 131 days left in the year.

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. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy 122nd Birthday, H.P. Lovecraft!

H.P. Lovecraft is my hands down, all-time favorite writer, and yesterday, Aug. 20, was his birthday. He was born in 1890 and died of stomach cancer at the age of 47 in 1937.

I’ve been a Lovecraft fan since age 10, when I happened to read a comic book version of Lovecraft’s 1921 story, “The Outsider,” that my fifth-grade teacher had in her classroom. I’ve been hooked on Lovecraft ever since and now own numerous volumes of his works.

Lovecraft is best known for his horror, fantasy and science fiction short stories, most of which were published in pulp magazines like “Weird Tales.” Lovecraft lived most of his life in poverty and was relatively unknown during his lifetime, but he had a huge impact on later writers like Stephen King, Clive Barker, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Mike Mignola.

Lovecraft wrote a lot of stories, but the most famous is arguably “The Call of Cthulhu.” Other well known Lovecraft tales include “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” (my personal favorite) and “At the Mountains of Madness.” What follows is a complete list of his stories (along with any known co-authors and publication years):

• The Alchemist (1908)
• Ashes (with C. M. Eddy Jr., 1923)
• At the Mountains of Madness (1931)
• Azathoth (1922)
• The Battle that Ended the Century (with R. H. Barlow, 1934)
• The Beast in the Cave (1905)
• Beyond the Wall of Sleep (1919)
• The Book (1933?)
• The Call of Cthulhu (1926)
• The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927)
• The Cats of Ulthar (1920)
• Celephaïs (1920)
• The Challenge from Beyond (with C. L. Moore; A. Merritt; Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long, 1935)
• The Colour Out of Space (1927)
• Collapsing Cosmoses (with R. H. Barlow, 1935)
• Cool Air (1926)
• The Crawling Chaos (with Winifred V. Jackson, 1920/21)
• The Curse of Yig (with Zealia Bishop, 1928)
• Dagon (1917)
• Deaf, Dumb, and Blind (with C. M. Eddy Jr., 1924?)
• The Descendant (1926?)
• The Diary of Alonzo Typer (with William Lumley, 1935)
• The Disinterment (with Duane W. Rimel, 1935)
• The Doom That Came to Sarnath (1919)
• The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926/27)
• The Dreams in the Witch House (1932)
• The Dunwich Horror (1928)
• The Electric Executioner (with Adolphe de Castro, 1929?)
• The Evil Clergyman (1933)
• Ex Oblivione (1920/21)
• Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family (1920)
• The Festival (1923)
• From Beyond (1920)
• The Ghost-Eater (with C. M. Eddy Jr., 1923)
• The Green Meadow (with Winifred V. Jackson, 1918/19)
• The Haunter of the Dark (1935)
• He (1925)
• Herbert West – Reanimator (1921/22)
• History of the Necronomicon (1927)
• The Horror at Martin’s Beach (with Sonia H. Greene, 1922)
• The Horror at Red Hook (1925)
• The Horror in the Burying-Ground (with Hazel Heald, 1933/35)
• The Horror in the Museum (with Hazel Heald, 1932)
• The Hound (1922)
• Hypnos (1922)
• Ibid (1928?)
• In the Vault (1925)
• In the Walls of Eryx (with Kenneth Sterling, 1936)
• The Last Test (with Adolphe de Castro, 1927)
• The Little Glass Bottle (1897)
• The Loved Dead (with C. M. Eddy Jr., 1923)
• The Lurking Fear (1922)
• The Man of Stone (with Hazel Heald, 1932)
• Medusa’s Coil (with Zealia Bishop, 1930)
• Memory (1919)
• The Moon-Bog (1921)
• The Mound (with Zealia Bishop, 1929/30)
• The Music of Erich Zann (1921)
• The Mysterious Ship (1902)
• The Mystery of the Grave-Yard (1898)
• The Nameless City (1921)
• The Night Ocean (with R. H. Barlow, 1936)
• Nyarlathotep (1920)
• Old Bugs (1919)
• The Other Gods (1921)
• Out of the Aeons (with Hazel Heald, 1933)
• The Outsider (1921)
• Pickman’s Model (1926)
• The Picture in the House (1920)
• Poetry and the Gods (with Anna Helen Crofts, 1920)
• Polaris (1918)
• The Quest of Iranon (1921)
• The Rats in the Walls (1923)
• A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson (1917)
• The Secret Cave or John Lees Adventure (1898)
• The Shadow Out of Time (1934/35)
• The Shadow Over Innsmouth (1931)
• The Shunned House (1924)
• The Silver Key (1926)
• The Statement of Randolph Carter (1919)
• The Strange High House in the Mist (1926)
• The Street (1920?)
• Sweet Ermengarde (1917) The Temple (1920)
• The Terrible Old Man (1920)
• The Thing in the Moonlight (spurious)
• The Thing on the Doorstep (1933)
• Through the Gates of the Silver Key (with E. Hoffmann Price, 1932/33)
• “Till A’ the Seas” (with R. H. Barlow, 1935)
• The Tomb (1917)
• The Transition of Juan Romero (1919)
• The Trap (with Henry S. Whitehead, 1931)
• The Tree (1920)
• The Tree on the Hill (with Duane W. Rimel, 1934)
• Two Black Bottles (with Wilfred Blanch Talman, 1926)
• Under the Pyramids (with Harry Houdini, 1924)
• The Unnamable (1923)
• The Very Old Folk (1927)
• What the Moon Brings (1922)
• The Whisperer in Darkness (1930)
• The White Ship (1919)
• Winged Death (with Hazel Heald, 1933)

This list, as well as a ton of other information about Lovecraft, can be found online at The H.P. Lovecraft Archive at www.hplovecraft.com.

In the end, which of Lovecraft’s stories have you read? Which did you like or dislike? Which is your all time favorite and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Daily Weather Observations for Tues., Aug. 21, 2012

Temp: 68.0 degrees F (20.0 degrees C)

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.35 inches.

Humidity: 84 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Overcast; foggy, visiblity less than half a mile; birds audible and visible; dew on the ground, small mushrooms visible in the grass; small patches of spider webs visible in the grass; standing water in puddles left by yesterday's rain visible.

Winds: 1.1 mph out of the Northwest

Barometric Pressure: 29.52 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.45 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.65 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 51.35 inches

Local Weather Alerts: None.

Alabama River Stage at Claiborne Lock and Dam (gage height in feet):
Today: 6.51 feet
Yesterday: 6.26 feet
Change: +0.25 feet
Flood Stage: 42.0 feet

NOTES: Today is the 234th day of 2012 and the 63rd day of Summer. There are 132 days left in the year.

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. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Monday, August 20, 2012

BUCKET LIST UPDATE - No. 21: Watch my son catch his first fish

I scratched another item off my bucket list on Friday when I watched my son catch his first fish.

Friday’s trip wasn’t my son’s first fishing experience, but it was the first time that he actually landed a fish on his own. We’d been fishing several times before, but he’d never caught anything. A month or so ago, we were at my nephew’s birthday party when a family friend told us to try the pond adjacent to his house. He said that it was full of fish, and that we were welcome to fish there any time.

We set off for this pond Friday afternoon and arrived there around 3:30 p.m. It’s usually beat-down hot that time of day in mid-August in southwest Alabama, but not on Friday. Temperatures were mild, we were mostly in the shade and there was a little wind blowing.

Armed with an old-fashioned cane pole and a small basket of crickets, it didn’t take us long to get a bite. My son was using the cane pole, which was a tad too long for him. He did his best to hold it right, and I had to instruct him to keep his eye on the lime-green cork. When it goes underwater, you’ve got a fish, I told him again and again.

We hadn’t been there long when he got a real, legitimate bite. The cork went underwater, and he pulled the fish out of the water and onto the pier. To say that he was a little excited would be an understatement. I snapped a few pictures of him with his “monster” bream for posterity’s sake.

The fish was small, just over six inches long, but we kept him anyway. My son asked me if it was a “keeper,” and I said “yeah” because it was his first fish. After all, we needed to take it home to show mamma. I asked him where did he hear about a “keeper”? He said he’d heard about it on the cartoon, “Little Bill.” I asked him, “What is a keeper?” It’s a “big one,” he answered.

In all, he caught six or seven fish on Friday, but we threw them all back except for the first. We took his first fish home to show off and before it was all said and done, even my in-laws made the trip over to inspect his catch.

My son turned four in June, and I wonder if, years from now, he’ll even remember catching his first fish. I can barely remember catching my first fish. It was either a bream or white perch, and I was in a boat with my dad and grandfather. We were probably on the Alabama River somewhere. For some reason, I keep thinking that I was in the first grade, which would mean that I was six or seven years old.

In the end, I enjoyed scratching another item off my bucket list. How many of you can remember catching your first fish? When and where did you do it? How old were you? Who were you with? Let us know in the comments section below.

Yesterday's News from The Evergreen Courant for Aug. 20, 2012

FOUR YEARS AGO
AUG. 28, 2008

“When the dust settled after Tuesday’s municipal elections in Conecuh County, the unofficial results showed that six incumbents will return to office while three races will have to be settled in a runoff.
“In the race for Evergreen mayor, incumbent Larry Fluker and challenger Pete Wolff III will square off in a runoff election on Tues., Oct. 7. Fluker received 762 total votes during Tuesday’s election. Wolff followed with 691 votes, and Gerald Salter received 101 votes.”

“Conecuh County suffered its sixth traffic fatality of 2008 on Saturday when a local woman was killed after a collision with a moving train at a downtown Evergreen intersection.
“According to the accident report, Judy Rollins McCullough, 49, of Evergreen was killed in a collision with a train Saturday at 2:21 p.m. at the intersection of Belleville Street and West Front Street in Evergreen.”

“Conecuh County Commissioners Hugh Barrow and Leonard Millender were recently honored by the Association of County Commissions of Alabama for 20 years of service to county government and the State of Alabama.
“Barrow and Millender were honored with the Tenure in Office Award from ACCA last Thursday during the Association’s 80th Annual Convention.”

“The Conecuh County Commission held its first ever EMA-E911 board meeting Monday morning in Evergreen and named two men to serve as advisors to the board.”

19 YEARS AGO
AUG. 26, 1993

“Jerry Clower, star of the Grand Ole Opry and nine-time ‘Country Comic of the Year,’ will highlight the 1994 Conecuh Heritage Festival on Oct. 16 in Evergreen. The show is being sponsored by the Evergreen-Conecuh County Chamber of Commerce. Tickets go on sale soon.”

“District Judge Sue Bell Cobb has been named as a recipient of one of eight awards give in 1993 by the Juvenile Justice Awards Committee of the National Juvenile Detention Association. Judge Cobb will travel to Eastern Kentucky University in mid-September to receive the prestigious award.
“Letters of recommendation favoring Judge Cobb’s nomination for the award were also received by Alabama Chief Justice Sonny Hornsby; Paul Vincent, director of the Family and Children’s Services Division of the Alabama Department of Human Resources; John M. Houston, executive assistant to the associate commissioner for mental illness; George M. Phyfer, executive director of the State of Alabama Department of Youth Services; and Circuit Judge Richard H. Dorrough of the 15th judicial circuit in Montgomery County.”

“Edward Tullis has resigned as executive director of the Conecuh-Monroe Community Action Agency. Tullis tendered his resignation, effective immediately, Monday night during the board’s regular meeting in Monroeville.”

24 YEARS AGO
AUG. 24, 1978

“The Courant’s dauntless weathermen, Ole Earl Windham, wrote on his weekly weather report this week – ‘Dear Ole Bob: It’s hot weather now, but we have cold weather on the way for I heard some geese on the way south.’ You’ll notice he doesn’t say how soon that cooler temperatures may be expected.
“Windham reports .11 inches of rain on Aug. 16 and .54 on Aug. 19.”

“Conecuh County Schools will open Wed., Aug. 30, at 8 a.m. It is announced by Wayne Pope, Superintendent.”

“The City Drug Store was broken into and robbed sometime Thursday night for the second time in a little over two weeks, and the third time in a little over five months.”

“John W. (Bill) Daw, 63, died of a heart attack on Wed., Aug. 16, in a local hospital. Mr. Daw lived on Rt. 3, Evergreen, and was a well-known contractor. He has earned much respect as an honest and efficient builder. A quiet, friendly man, he enjoyed the respect and esteem of his family and all who knew him.”

“Dr. J. Barton Starr, Associate Professor of History at Troy State University in Dothan and Fort Rucker, has been named a Fulbright-Hays lecturer at Baptist College in Hong Kong. His wife, Rebekah, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Everage of Evergreen.”

“Mirian Elaine Mason Ptomey, daughter of Mrs. Ola W. Mason and the late Guy Mason of Evergreen, is now associated with the legal firm of Holsberry, Emanuel, Shepard and Condon of Pensacola.”

49 YEARS AGO
AUG. 22, 1963

“Will Evergreen get a junior college?
“According to Guy Mason and Ivey Booker, co-chairmen of the Chamber of Commerce Junior College Committee, the answer is yes if the advantages of Evergreen are given serious consideration.”

“Supplies for Evergreen’s second fallout shelter arrived recently for the Southern Bell Telephone building. Present to receive them were Ivey Booker, chairman of the board of directors, Miss Elsie Couey, manager of the local Southern Bell office, C.L. Kamplain, director-coordinator Conecuh County Civil Defense, and Mayor Zell Murphy. Supplies were stored in the post office building several months ago. Supplies at the telephone building include food, water containers and medical supplies for 160 people and a set of radiological instruments to measure fallout intensity. The food is a concentrated survival biscuit packed in sealed cans, enough to supply about 1,000 calories per day per person for 14 days. People requiring special diets would have to bring their own foods with them. The supplies are supplied by the Federal Government as they are for all buildings marked as fallout shelters.”

“County Agent Mabry Huggins announced today that the price support rate for 1963 crop middling grade, 1-1/32 inch staple length cotton is 33.63 cents per pound.”

64 YEARS AGO
AUG. 26, 1948

“Funeral services were held from Cope Funeral Home Wed., Aug. 18, at 5 p.m. for Pfc. Elly Cowart Jr., who was killed in action March 26, 1945 in Germany while crossing the Rhine River.”

“Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Deer will attend commencement exercises at the University of Alabama Friday evening, Aug. 27, at which their daughter, Mrs. Carolyn D. Owens will receive her B.S. degree from the School of Education.”

“Edward Lindsey Conner, age 63, died Thursday morning at four o’clock of a heart attack at the home of his son, Clyde M. Conner, in Evergreen. He was Past Master of Downing Lodge 580, A.F.&A.M. and was an untiring worker in the lodge, at one time he served on the town council.
“Interment was in Buffington Cemetery, Cope Funeral Director, in charge. Masonic services were conducted at the grave by S.H. Hendrix of Mobile, assisted by 51 members of Downing Lodge 580, A.F.&A.M.”

“The body of Pfc. Benjamin H. Oliver (son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Oliver, former residents of this community, but the past few years of Myrtle Grove, Fla.), who was killed in Germany, Feb. 26, 1945, arrived in Evergreen Friday at 2 p.m.”

“Miss Merle Jordan, 21-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. I.N. Jordan of Owassa, Ala., has won her wings as an American Airlines Stewardess and has been assigned to fly the nation-spanning routes of the airline in 300-mile-an-hour DC-6’s and Convairs.”