Sunday, June 30, 2013

Neil Gaiman's latest novel debuts on best-sellers list this week

Today is Sunday, so that means that it’s time for my weekly breakdown of this week’s Publishers Weekly Best-Sellers Lists. According to those lists, there are no new books at the top of the four major best-sellers lists this week, that is, the same four books that were at the top last week are still at the top this week.

"Inferno" by Dan Brown remained the No. 1 book on the hardcover fiction best-sellers list for the sixth straight week.

"Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander" by Phil Robertson and Mark Schlabach retained the top spot on the hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list for the seventh straight week.

"A Wanted Man" by Lee Child remained the No. 1 book on the mass market paperback best-sellers list for the fourth straight week.

"Joyland" by Stephen King remained the top book on the trade paperbacks best-sellers list for the second straight week.

There were four books on this week’s hardcover fiction best-sellers list that weren’t on that list lat week. They (and their places on the list) included "The Heist" by Janet Evanovich (2), "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman (3), "The 9th Girl" by Tami Hoag (8) and "Sweet Salt Air" by Barbara Delinsky (13).

There were two books on this week’s hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They included "Darwin’s Doubt" by Stephen C. Meyer (10) and "Loyalty 3.0" by Rajat Paharia (12).

There were two books on this week’s mass market paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They included "What the Duke Desires" by Sabrina Jeffries (11) and "Guilty Wives" by James Patterson, David Ellis (14).

There were two books on this week’s trade paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They included "NYPD Red" by James Patterson, Marshall Karp (4) and "Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman (14).

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. "Inferno" by Dan Brown
2. "The Heist" by Janet Evanovich
3. "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman
4. "And the Mountains Echoed" by Khaled Hosseini
5. "Bad Monkey" by Carl Hiaasen
6. "The Silver Star" by Jeannette Walls
7. "The Eye of Moloch" by Glenn Beck
8. "The 9th Girl" by Tami Hoag
9. "Revenge Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger
10. "The Last Original Wife" by Dorothea Benton
11. "The King's Deception" by Steve Berry
12. "Zero Hour" by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
13. "Sweet Salt Air" by Barbara Delinsky
14. "The Hit" by David Baldacci
15. "Deeply Odd" by Dean Koontz

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "Happy, Happy, Happy" by Phil Robertson
2. "American Gun" by Chris Kyle
3. "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg
4. "The Duck Commander Family" by Willie Robertson, Korie Robertson and Mark Schlabach
5. "Eleven Rings" by Phil Jackson
6. "Dad Is Fat" by Jim Gaffigan
7. "Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls" by David Sedaris
8. "Keep it Pithy: Useful Observations in a Tough World" by Bill O'Reilly
9. "The 100" by Jorge Cruise
10. "Darwins Doubt" by Stephen C. Meyer
11. "Life Code" by Phil McGraw
12. "Loyalty 3.0" by Rajat Paharia
13. "The Guns at Last Light" by Rick Atkinson
14. "The Unwinding" by George Packer
15. "George Washington" by Jack E. Levin

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "A Wanted Man" by Lee Child
2. "One Summer" by David Baldacci
3. "World War Z" by Max Brooks
4. "Sea Glass Island" by Sherryl Woods
5. "Big Sky Summer" by Linda Lael Miller
6. "The Storm" by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
7. "Something Wicked" by Lisa Jackson
8. "Happy Endings" by Nora Roberts
9. "Black List" by Brad Thor
10. "Sweet Talk" by Julie Garwood
11. "What the Duke Desires" by Sabrina Jeffries
12. "The Best of Me" by Nicholas Sparks
13. "Full Tilt" by Janet Evanovich
14. "Guilty Wives" by James Patterson, David Ellis
15. "Stolen Prey" by John Sandford

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. "Joyland" by Stephen King
2. "Entwined with You" by Sylvia Day
3. "Proof of Heaven" by Eben Alexander
4. "NYPD Red" by James Patterson, Marshall Karp
5. "World War Z" by Max Brooks
6. "Beautiful Ruins" by Jess Walter
7. "Flight Behavior" by Barbara Kingsolver
8. "DSM-5" by American Psychiatric Association
9. "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" by Cheryl Strayed
10. "Under the Dome" by Stephen King
11. "Rising Tides" by Nora Roberts
12. "Zoo" by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
13. "Bared to You" by Sylvia Day
14. "Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman
15. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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., June 30, 2013

Temp: 73.9 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches

Humidity: 81 percent (High)

Conditions: Mostly Cloudy skies; birds audible and visible; cows and flying insects audible.

Wind: 0.1 mph out of the West.

Barometric Pressure: 29.26 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.75 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.3 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 0.75 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 31.40 inches

NOTES: Today is the 181st day of 2013 and the tenth day of Summer. There are 184 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, June 29, 2013

Voter participation in Evergreen election was higher in 2013 than in 2008

Voters line up for ballots in June 18 election.
Elections in Conecuh County - and especially in Evergreen - are always interesting for a number of reasons and the most recent election in the City of Evergreen was no different.

Many of the candidates in the 2013 city elections also took part in the 2008 city elections, so let’s take a close look at both of those elections. Keep in mind that this year’s election was held on June 18, and the last election was held on Aug. 26, 2008.

Interestingly, voter turnout was higher in 2013 than in 2008. In the 2013 election, 1,747 voters cast ballots in the mayoral election compared to 1,554 ballots originally cast in 2008. Before I go any further bear in mind that the numbers I’m using don’t take into account the long lawsuit that followed the 2008 election, a suit in which a number of ballots were cast aside for various reasons. The numbers I’m using are those from the day after the election in 2008.

As far as people who actually went to the polls to vote in the mayor’s race, turnout was almost the same in both elections. In 2008, 1,471 voters physically went to the polls to cast ballots. In the 2013 election, 1,468 voters physically went to the polls to cast a ballot in the mayor’s race.

The biggest difference between the two mayoral elections was in the absentee balloting. Only 83 absentee ballots were cast in the 2008 election, but 279 were cast in the 2013 election. In other words, more than three times the number of absentee ballots were cast in 2013 than in 2008.

Taking a closer look at the absentee ballots, incumbent mayor Larry Fluker received the most absentee ballots in 2008 with a total of 60. Challengers Pete Wolff III got 18 and Gerald Salter got three. In the 2013 election, Wolff, the incumbent this time, got the most absentee ballots with 131. Fluker followed with 123. Challenger Jimmy Taylor got 25, which was more than two candidates combined got in 2008.

When it comes to the city council races in 2008 and 2013, there were also a number of notable differences. In 2008, two of the five city council races went to a runoff election. Only one of the council seats from the most recent election is headed to a runoff.

Incumbent council members also appeared to have faired better in the 2013 election. In 2008, two incumbents didn’t seek re-election. Of the three remaining incumbents, two lost and only one returned to office, Maxine Harris. In 2013, three incumbents were re-elected while only one suffered defeat. Another is involved in a runoff.

In the end, it’ll be interesting to see what the newest slate of city officials, elected incumbents included, will be able to accomplish during their time in office. Like a lot of people, I hope they’re able to work together and foster harmony among all the city’s citizens. It’s often said that people get the government they deserve, and few would doubt that the citizens of Evergreen deserve the best leadership possible.

Daily Weather Observations for Sat., June 29, 2013

Temp: 73.6 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.05 inches

Humidity: 81 percent (High)

Conditions: Mostly Cloudy skies; birds audible and visible; cows audible.

Wind: 0.1 mph out of the Northwest.

Barometric Pressure: 29.28 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.75 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.3 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 0.75 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 31.40 inches

NOTES: Today is the 180th day of 2013 and the ninth day of Summer. There are 185 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, June 28, 2013

Brantley basketball legend Chuck Person turns 49

Chuck Person of Brantley, Ala.
Hardcore Auburn basketball fans in the reading audience will know that yesterday (Thursday) was Chuck Person’s 49th birthday. Person was born on this day in 1964 and is arguably one of the greatest hoops players to ever come from the state of Alabama.

Person went to high school just a short drive from Conecuh County, graduating from Brantley High School in Crenshaw County before moving on to Auburn in 1982. Person was a living legend at Auburn and would eventually be selected in the first round of the 1986 draft by the Indiana Pacers. He was the fourth overall pick in the draft that year and went on to play 15 years in the NBA.

During his time in the NBA, the six-foot-eight small forward played for the Pacers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the San Antonio Spurs, the Charlotte Hornets and the Seattle SuperSonics. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1987 and was also named a first team member of the NBA All-Rookie Team that season. During his career, he amassed 13,858 total points (14.7 per game), 4,763 rebounds (5.1 per game) and 2,645 assists (2.8 per game).

After his playing career, Person served as an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pacers, the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers. He was an assistant with the Lakers between 2009 and 2013 and helped lead the team to a NBA title in 2010. It’s interesting to note that he served on the Lakers’ staff through the tenure of three head coaches – Phil Jackson, Mike D’Antoni and Mike Brown, who let Person go at the end of last season.

Many of you will also be familiar with Chuck Person’s little brother, Wesley Person, who turned 42 back in March. Wesley also graduated from Brantley High School before following in his brother’s footsteps to Auburn, where he played from 1990 to 1994. He was also selected in the first round of the NBA draft, but went a little lower in the order than his older brother. The Phoenix Suns picked him 23rd overall.

Wesley played in the NBA from 1994 to 2005 for such teams as the Suns, the Cavaliers, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Atlanta Hawks, the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets. Wesley was always a threat to sink a shot from beyond the three-point line, and he finished his pro career with a .418 three-point shooting percentage. In all, he scored 8,192 career points as a pro.

Wesley’s son, Wesley Person Jr., will be a senior next year at Brantley High School, and, as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Last year, as a 6-foot-2 guard, Wesley Jr. helped the Bulldogs finish as the Class 1A runner-up in the state tournament, and he was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 1A Player of the Year. Don’t be shocked if he ends up playing at Auburn and in the NBA a few years down the road.

Daily Weather Observations for Fri., June 28, 2013

Temp: 79.2 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches

Humidity: 78 percent (High)

Conditions: Partly Cloudy skies and sunny; birds audible and visible; moon also visible; flying insects visible.

Wind: 0.1 mph out of the West-Southwest.

Barometric Pressure: 29.42 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.7 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.25 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 0.7 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 31.35 inches

NOTES: Today is the 179th day of 2013 and the eighth day of Summer. There are 186 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, June 27, 2013

Evergreen's Greening Masonic Lodge No. 53 elects, installs new officers

Greening Lodge No. 53's 2013-2014 officers.
The members of Greening Lodge No. 53 of Evergreen, Free and Accepted Masons of Alabama, elected its new slate of officers for the coming year, 2013-1014, on June 11. Those officers were officially installed during a meeting Tuesday.

Danny Covin, last year’s Senior Warden, was elected Worshipful Master, and Brian Crandall, the lodge’s longtime treasurer, was elected to serve as incoming Senior Warden. Mark Godwin will serve as Junior Warden, and Alex Pate will serve as Senior Deacon. His brother, Gary Wayne Pate, will serve as Junior Deacon.

Ben Peters was elected to serve as Treasurer, and Jettie Shell was reelected to serve as Secretary, a position he has held for many years. James “J.B.” Franklin was reelected as Tyler. Phil Freeman will serve as Chaplain, and Lee Salter, the lodge’s outgoing Worshipful Master, will serve as Marshal.

Donald Salter was elected as Senior Steward, and James McKinney was elected as Junior Steward. John Potts will serve as Historian.

Pictured in the photo above, from left, after Tuesday's induction ceremony are, front row, Donald Salter, Senior Steward; Brian Crandall, Senior Warden; Danny Covin, Worshipful Master; Mark Godwin, Junior Warden; Jim McKinney, Junior Steward; and James “J.B.” Franklin, Tyler; back row, Lee Salter, Marshal; Wayne Ginwright, Installing Officer; Jettie Shell, Secretary; Phil Freeman, Chaplain; and Alex Pate, Senior Deacon. Not pictured are Gary Wayne Pate, Junior Deacon; Ben Peters, Treasurer; and John Potts, Historian.

Regular meetings of Greening Lodge No. 53, which was chartered in 1875, are held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Masonic Lodge at 104 Edwina St. across from Evergreen Medical Center. Lodge meetings begin at 7 p.m. For more information, phone Lee Peacock at 251-238-1841 or Freeman at 578-3614.

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for June 27, 2013

Evergreen boxer Clint Jackson
22 YEARS AGO
JUNE 27, 1991

“Steven Bledsoe is pictured receiving the Sportsmanship Award from Babe Ruth League President David Rabren. Also pictured are league officer Jesse Rodgers and Erwin Scott.”

“Sportsmanship awards were given to four players in the Babe Ruth league Saturday night with one player being chosen as the overall winner of the Sportsmanship Award. The award winners were Eric Owens, Sedrick Fluker, Steven Bledsoe and Greg Shehan.”

“Presley-Fluker won the 1991 championship in the Babe Ruth League in Evergreen’s Municipal Park. Pictured from the winning team are Jesse Rogers, Henry Holt, Kevin Riley, Reggie Boykin, Isaac McMillan, Sedrick Fluker, Marlo McDaniel and Terry Holt. Not pictured are Rhett Wilson, Shannon Sims, Edward Evans and Michael Bradley.”

“Giants take title in Little League: The Giants captured the 1991 Evergreen Little League championship Saturday night with a 7-4 victory over the Dodgers in an action-packed contest.
“Rod McIntyre and Dedrick Locke scored in the top half of the first inning giving the Giants a 2-0 lead.
“The score remained 2-0 until the bottom half of the third inning when Eugene Nevlous and Lyle Bell crossed the plate for the Dodgers.”
Other players in that game included Chris Etheridge, Alvis Griffin, Dedrick Locke, Ryan Meeks, Jennifer Meeks and Don Ray Mixon.

37 YEARS AGO
JUNE 24, 1976

“Clint Jackson, a native of Evergreen, is currently training for the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team at the University of Vermont in Burington. Saturday night the final box-offs will be held to determine which 11 of the 24 boxers will represent the U.S. at the competition in Montreal. This event is being filmed by ABC’s Wide World of Sports and will be telecast the following day. Clint, 147 pounds, 5-11 welterweight, is the only boxer ever to win three straight National AAU and Golden Glove titles. Twice he was the North American Champion and has also won the Pan American and All American championships. He was named the U.S. Olympic athlete of the year for all sports in 1975. His record of 149 wins against 13 losses includes 80 knockouts. He is a graduate of Evergreen High School.”

“Little gridders register Tuesday at Castleberry: Registration for Pee Wee and Tiny Mite football will be held in Castleberry this Tuesday night from six to eight o’clock. All interested persons are asked to meet at the Conecuh County High School gym. Registration fee is $5 per player.”

“Evergreen High QB’s meet tonight: The Evergreen High School Quarterback Club will meet tonight at seven o’clock in the school lunchroom. Plans for the coming football season will be made, and all members are urged to attend.”

67 YEARS AGO
JUNE 27, 1946

“Evergreen Wins Two Games From Niceville by John Law Robinson: Evergreen handed Niceville two defeats last week to make its record 11 wins and one loss. The scores were 7 to 2 and 9 to 1.
“In the first inning, the Greenies jumped on Bridges, Niceville pitcher, for six hits and five runs. But here the Greenies were stopped. They were held to six hits and two runs for the remaining eight innings. Hart held the visitors to 10 hits and two runs.
“Page led the locals at bat in this game with three hits. Johnson, Barfield and Hart had two hits each.
“In the second game, the locals played the best brand of ball that they have displayed this season. Clowers, opening pitcher for Niceville, held the locals in check for three innings before White started a rally. Bridges relieved him and checked the Greenies attack at this point. Windham started for Evergreen and was relieved by Hart in the sixth frame.
“Johnson led the locals in hitting with a double and two singles. Bolton, second baseman, and White, catcher, looked good defensively for Evegreen.”

“Brewton’s Second Annual Horse Show: Athletic Field, Brewton, Ala. Promptly at 7:30 p.m. Wed., July 10, Free Barns! Free Care for Horses! Sponsored by Brewton Lions Club.”

82 YEARS AGO
JUNE 25, 1931

“Locals Win Game From Garland Thurs.: The local baseball team continued its winning streak last Thursday by defeating Garland in a fast game by the close score of 4 to 3. Despite the rain the attendance was good.
“The next encounter on the local diamond will be Thurs., June 25, when Evergreen will meet Castleberry. The players and manager will greatly appreciate a good attendance of the baseball fans of town. No subscriptions have been taken to finance the expenses of the team, thus it is dependent upon the gate receipts to defray these expenses. Those who have seen both Evergreen and Castleberry in action predict that this game will be another fast one.
“On Thurs., July 2, Evergreen will again meet Garland on the local diamond. Come out to the games and give your support to the team.”

Daily Weather Observations for Thurs., June 27, 2013

Temp: 79.2 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches

Humidity: 80 percent (High)

Conditions: Clear skies and sunny; birds audible and visible; dogs audible; moon also visible; standing water in yard from recent rain; small mushrooms visible in the grass.

Wind: 0.1 mph out of the West-Southwest.

Barometric Pressure: 29.52 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.7 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.25 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 0.7 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 31.35 inches

NOTES: Today is the 178th day of 2013 and the seventh day of Summer. There are 187 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, June 26, 2013

Florala, Ala. historical marker tells of Lake Jackson's place in history

Florala's 'Lake Jackson' historical marker
This week’s featured historical marker is the “LAKE JACKSON” marker that I encountered during a recent visit to Florala, Ala.

This marker is located in a small park near the intersection of State Highway 55 (which is also called Third Street in Florala) and Third Avenue. The small park, which also includes a decommissioned U.S. Air Force jet, serves as an entrance and parking area for Florala State Park, which encompasses Lake Jackson. Near the historical marker, you’ll also see a sign directing visitors to Florala High School’s Mathews Stadium.

One thing that makes the “LAKE JACKSON” historical marker somewhat unique is that, aside from some discoloration, it’s mostly blue in color. Most historical markers of this type are usually green, black or dark navy blue. I can’t tell if this marker was repainted blue at some point or if this is its original color. Either way, it has a different, unique look to it.

What follows is the complete text from the marker, which was erected by the Alabama Historical Association in 1966.

----- 0 -----

“LAKE JACKSON: Andrew Jackson in Seminole War with an army of 1,200 camped here in May 1818 en route westward from Fort Gadsden to subdue marauding Indians abetted by Spaniards at Pensacola. Jackson determined to seize Pensacola and thus altered the course of history on this continent.”

----- 0 -----

Lake Jackson, which takes its name from Andrew Jackson, is a 500-acre lake located on the Alabama-Florida state line. On average the lake is 12 to 14 feet deep, but in some places it’s up to 28 feet deep. Most of the water in the lake comes from rain runoff.

Andrew Jackson is best known for being the seventh President of the United States, but in his younger days he was a commander in the Tennessee militia. During the First Seminole War, which lasted from 1814 to 1819, Jackson led an invasion into Florida and captured Pensacola. The marker in Florala mentions Fort Gadsden, which wasn’t located in Gadsden, Ala. Instead it was located in present-day Franklin County, Fla.

Jackson left Fort Gadsden on May 7, 1818 and after his stop in Florala, he reached Pensacola on May 23, 1818. A Spanish garrison of less than 200 soldiers was in Pensacola at the time, and they, along with the Spanish governor, abandoned the city in the face of Jackson’s superior numbers. The Spanish soldiers in Pensacola fled to Fort Barrancas, which is located within was it today the Pensacola Naval Air Station.

The Spanish formally surrendered to Jackson on May 28, 1818, and as the marker in Florala indicates, this had a huge impact on history. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, who would go on to become the sixth President of the United States, entered negotiations with the Spanish after their surrender, and the end result was that the Spanish eventually ceded Florida to the United States.

In the end, visit this site next Wednesday to learn about another historical marker. I’m also taking suggestions from the reading audience, so if you know of an interesting historical marker that you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments section below.

This week's movie picks are 'White House Down' and 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone'

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 or pick up at the local Redbox.

Movies that are scheduled to hit theatres this week include:

- A Band Called Death (Documentary, Music): Directed by Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino and starring Alice Cooper, Bobby Hackney, Dannis Hackney, David Hackney and Henry Rollins.

- Byzantium (Drama, Fantasy, R): Directed by Neil Jordan and starring Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan, Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller and Daniel Mays.

- Copperhead (Drama, War, PG-13): Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell and starring Billy Campbell, Peter Fonda, Angus Macfadyen, Augustus Prew and Francois Amaud.

- The Heat (Comedy, Action, R): Directed by Paul Feig and starring Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demian Bichir, Michael Rapaport and Marlon Wayans.

- How to Make Money Selling Drugs (Documentary): Directed by Matthew Cooke and starring 50 Cent, ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross, Susan Sarandon, Woody Harrelson and David Simon.

- I’m So Excited (Comedy, R): Directed by Pedro Almodovar and starring Hugo Silva, Antonio De La Torre, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Laya Marti and Javier Camara.

- Petunia (Comedy, Drama, Not Rated): Directed by Ash Christian and starring Tobias Segal, Thora Birch, Christine Lahti, Brittany Snow and Michael Urie.

- Redemption (Action, Suspense, R): Directed by Steven Knight and starring Jason Statham, Senem Temiz, Vicky McClure, Benedict Wong and Lee Asquith-Coe.

- White House Down (Action/Drama, PG-13): Directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods and Richard Jenkins.

New DVD releases this week include:

- The Call (Suspense, Drama, R): Directed by Brad Anderson and starring Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund and Michael Imperioli.

- Help! (Musical, Comedy, G): Directed by Richard Lester and starring Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Leo McKern.

- The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Comedy, PG-13): Directed by Don Scardino and starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde and Alan Arkin.

- Into the White (Action, War, R): Directed by Petter Naess and starring Florian Lukas, David Kross, Stig Henrik Hoff, Lachlan Nieboer and Rupert Grint.

- No (Drama, R): Directed by Pablo Larrain and starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Nestor Cantillana, Antonia Zegers and Luis Gnecco.

- Phantom (Action, Suspense, Adventure, PG-13): Directed by Todd Robinson and starring Ed Harris, David Duchovny, Willian Fichtner, Lance Henriksen and Jonathon Schaech.

- A Place at the Table (Documentary, PG): Directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush and starring Jeff Bridges and Tom Colicchio.

- Pusher (Crime, Suspense, R): Directed by Luis Prieto and starring Richard Coyle, Bronson Webb, Agyness Deyn, Mem Ferda and Zlatko Buric.

If I could only watch one movie at the theatre this week, it would be “White House Down,” and if I had to pick just one DVD to rent this week, it would be “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.”

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., June 26, 2013

Temp: 75.7 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.6 inches

Humidity: 80 percent (High)

Conditions: Partly Cloudy skies and sunny; birds audible; dogs audible and visible; moon also visible; standing water in yard from yesterday's rain; small mushrooms visible in the grass; flying insects visible.

Wind: 0.0 mph (No wind)

Barometric Pressure: 29.57 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.7 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.25 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 0.7 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 31.35 inches

NOTES: Today is the 177th day of 2013 and the sixth day of Summer. There are 188 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, June 25, 2013

'Jack Glass' by Adam Roberts wins John W. Campbell Memorial Award

The winner of the prestigious John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel was announced recently, and this year’s winner for “best science fiction novel published in 2012” was “Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer” by Adam Roberts.

The other finalists this year included:

- Any Day Now by Terry Bisson (second place)

- Empty Space by M. John Harrison (tied for third place)

- Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (tied for third place)

- The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks

- Existence by David Brin

- The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross

- Intrusion by Ken MacLeod

- Railsea by China Mieville

- The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi

- Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds

- 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

- Slow Apocalypse by John Varley

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award was first given in 1973 and what follows is a complete list of the all-time winners.

1973 - Beyond Apollo by Barry N. Malzberg
1974 - Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke and Malevil by Robert Merle
1975 - Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
1976 – The Year of the Quiet Sun by Wilson Tucker
1977 - The Alteration by Kingsley Amis
1978 - Gateway by Frederik Pohl
1979 - Gloriana by Michael Moorcock
1980 - On Wings of Song by Thomas M. Disch
1981 - Timescape by Gregory Benford
1982 - Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
1983 - Helliconia Spring by Brian W. Aldiss
1984 - The Citadel of the Autarch by Gene Wolfe
1985 - The Years of the City by Frederik Pohl
1986 - The Postman by David Brin
1987 - A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
1988 - Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis
1989 - Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling
1990 - The Child Garden by Geoff Ryman
1991 - Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson
1992 - Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede by Bradley Denton
1993 - Brother to Dragons by Charles Sheffield
1994 – No Award Given.
1995 - Permutation City by Greg Egan
1996 - The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
1997 – Fairyland by Paul J. McAuley
1998 - Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman
1999 - Brute Orbits by George Zebrowski
2000 - A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
2001 – Genesis by Poul Anderson
2002 - Terraforming Earth by Jack Williamson and The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson
2003 - Probability Space by Nancy Kress
2004 – Omega by Jack McDevitt
2005 - Market Forces by Richard Morgan
2006 – Mindscan by Robert J. Sawyer
2007 - Titan by Ben Bova
2008 - In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan
2009 - Little Brother by Cory Doctorow and Song of Time by Ian R. MacLeod
2010 - The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
2011 - The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
2012 - The Islanders by Christopher Priest and The Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewski
2013 - Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer by Adam Roberts

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

Daily Weather Observations for Tues., June 25, 2013

Temp: 74.5 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches

Humidity: 80 percent (High)

Conditions: Clear skies and sunny with a few trace clouds visible; birds audible; moon also visible.

Wind: 0.1 mph out of the North-Northeast.

Barometric Pressure: 29.66 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.1 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.65 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 0.1 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 30.75 inches

NOTES: Today is the 176th day of 2013 and the fifth day of Summer. There are 189 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, June 24, 2013

LIFE LIST UPDATE – No. 550: Run the Alligator Trot 5K in Florala

18th Annual Alligator Trot 5K in Florala, Ala.
I crossed another item off my “life list” on Saturday when I ran in the Alligator Trot 5K race in Florala, Ala.

The Alligator Trot is one of the most unique footraces you’ll ever run in, and I’ve had it on my “life list” ever since the day that I first heard about it. If you enjoy running, I highly recommend that you participate in this event.

One of the things that makes the Alligator Trot 5K so unique is that it actually takes place in two states. The 3.1-mile race begins in Alabama at Florala State Park proceeds around Lake Jackson into Florida before reentering Alabama for the finish line at Florala State Park. I’d venture to say that very few footraces, if any, take you into more than one state. They’re probably aren’t any that take place in Alabama and Florida like the Alligator Trot.

This year’s Alligator Trot 5K Race & Walk marked the 18th year of the event, which is held annually in conjunction with Florala’s annual Masonic Celebration. The race began a few minutes after 8 a.m. at the intersection of Third Avenue and Third Street in Florala, which is just off one of the parking lots at Florala State Park. Runners continued down Third Street and entered Florida about half a mile later.

Once in Florida, the race course turns left onto Lake Road, which runners take around Lake Jackson and back into Alabama. When runners cross back into Alabama, the road becomes Lake Shore Boulevard. Runners continue down Lake Shore Boulevard until they reach the finish line, which was just past the intersection of Lake Shore Boulevard and Tenth Street.

A fair number of people took part in Saturday’s race. A total of 225 registered for the event, and 217 crossed the finish line. As of Monday morning, the official race results haven’t been posted, but it appears that the overall male winner finished the race in 17:11, and the overall female winner completed the race in 18:47. (I finished in 25:53, which was my slowest 5K finish in over three years.) For more information about the Alligator Trot, visit its official Web site at www.alligatortrot.com.

As you would expect for a race in late June on the Alabama-Florida line, Saturday’s race was hot and humid, which is why during pre-race announcements organizers encouraged everyone to sign up for the annual Cancer Freeze 5K. Next year’s Cancer Freeze will be the third annual running of that race, which is also held at Florala State Park and follows the same route as the Alligator Trot. Held the first weekend in February, that race raises money for local cancer patients.

In the end, I enjoyed scratching another item off my “life list.” How many of you out there have ever ran the Alligator Trot 5K in Florala? What did you think about it? Do you know of any other unique races like this one? Let us know in the comments section below.

(And remember, the whole point of these life list updates isn’t to draw attention to myself or to anything that I’ve done. Instead, my aim is to encourage others to accomplish their own life list or bucket list goals. I’m just an average guy, and if I can do some of these things, so can you, so get up off the couch and get going.)

The Evergreen Courant's News Flashback for June 24, 2013

Evergreen Baptist Church
22 YEARS AGO
JUNE 27, 1991

“Smith’s Ambulance Service, which will celebrate 24 years of serving Conecuh County on July 1, has moved its base of operations to the building which once housed Owens Truck and Tractor.”

“Mabry and Marty Cook announce the birth of a son, Mabry Allen Cook Jr., born at 7:23 p.m. on June 15, 1991 at Baptist Hospital in Montgomery. He weighed eight pounds, 10 ounces and was 20-3/4 inches long.”

“The Evergreen High School Class of 1946 met May 18, 1991 for their 45th class reunion. Class members met at the home of Jerry Hart for a picnic lunch and later at the Quality Inn for dinner and a little reminiscing. A former teacher, Mrs. Emma Dunn, was a special guest at the picnic. Pictured left to right are Daisy Lee Crawford, Walter Watson, Ann Burnett Hobson, Evelyn Eddins Barron, Katherine Rutland Burnet, Betty M. Grass Tranum, Matthew Cross, Mary Lucia Carter Carrigan, Cornelia Wiggins Andrews, R.N.V. Wiggins Philyaw, Geraldine Donovan Birkhead, Bill Brown, Faye Prescott McKenzie, Morris Brown, Hazel Padgett Cone, Ruth Huey Moorer, Madeline Potts Nared, Edwina Lewis Sullivan, Mary C. McGraw Durden, Lillian Barlett McGraw, Geraldine Godwin Hart, Mary Lillian Morgan Cross, Bernadine McGraw Williams, Juanita Stinson Worlund, Elois Williams Stinson, Jimmy Murphy, Vivian Laster McCrory, Jesse King and Jodie Pugh Garrett.”

37 YEARS AGO
JUNE 24, 1976

Local weather reporter Earl Windham reported .07 of an inch of rain in Evergreen on June 9. He reported highs of 92 on June 11 and June 12 and a low of 52 on June 8.

“Miss Karla Ptomey has been named director of the Evergreen High School Band, succeeding Miss Virginia Mullican.”

“James K. (Jimmy) Cook, chairman of the Conecuh County Hospital Association Executive Board of Trustees, resigned from that post and as a member of the Association Board of Directors effective June 14. His resignation was submitted in a letter to the Conecuh County Commission, the appointing authority, dated June 9.”

“Jerry Booker, trustee at the Conecuh County Jail, holds a rattler killed by deputy Leroy Ferrell. The rattler was killed inside the city limits. It had four rattles and two buttons.”

“The Evergreen Rotary Club’s 17th annual Fish & Wildlife Camp held at Tal Stuart’s Pond, original and permanent site, near Belleville last week was a huge success with 64 campers, 13 junior counselors and a number of adults participating. These boys won prizes in various competitions: Gary Weaver, best senior camper; Ed Carrier, spin casting; Melton Bozeman, bait casting; and Rob Stuart, camp doctor, who treated some 30 or 40 ‘patients’ and received a Boy Scout knife as a special award; and Jimmy Ansley, best junior camper; Mike Raines, fly casting; Destry Watson, archery; Al Hendricks, rifle; and Jeff Johnson, shotgun.”

67 YEARS AGO
JUNE 27, 1946

“Former Negro Slave Dies At Ripe Old Age Of 99: Christana Stokes, age 99 years, six months and 18 days, died at her home near Owassa June 17. She was born as a slave in 1847 and was owned by the Ray Family.”

“Elmer E. Erb Dies Of Accident Injuries: Friends and relatives of Mrs. Elmer E. Erb (formerly Bertha Dewberry of Conecuh County) will regret to learn of the death of her husband, Elmer E. Erb which occurred June 7, when he accidentally fell from a cherry tree and was killed instantly. It is presumed that he had climbed the tree for cherries and lost his footing when he fell. However, he was alone at the time and was found by passing motorist.”

“March Planted Cotton Has Fine Crop Bolls: James Jordon and Will Lowe of McKenzie, Rt. 2, were exhibiting some fine specimens of grown cotton bolls here last Saturday. Mr. Jordan stated that they had 14 acres of this cotton which was planted in March and that it had already had a very fine crop of virtually mature bolls. He expects a yield of about a bale to the acre or over, he said.”

“Friends of E.A. White will be glad to know he is convalescing from a leg injury he suffered last week when a counter in his store became dislodged and fell on him, causing severe injury to both legs.”

82 YEARS AGO
JUNE 25, 1931

“BURNT CORN MASONS ELECT NEW OFFICERS: Burnt Corn Lodge No. 489, A.F.&A.M., meeting in annual communication on June 10, 1931, elected the following officers to serve the ensuing Masonic year:
“James K. Kyser, W.M.; Herbert E. Ellis, S.W.; William W. Thompson, J.W.; Henry H. Brantley, Treas.; Ajax O. Brantley, Sec’y.; Samuel H. Ridgway, S.D.; Felin T. Thames, J.D.; Isaac S. Ridgway, Chap.; Amous P. Waters and Hamp Grace, Stewards; Alma O. Salter, Marshal; James F. Roberson, Tyler.”

“SEPULGA LODGE ELECTS OFFICERS FOR YEAR: At a regular meeting of Sepulga Lodge, No. 233, held June 20, 1931, the following officers were elected for the ensuing Masonic year:
“S.S. Kendrick, W.M.; C.J. Henderson, S.W.; W.L. Sims, J.W.; S.H. Mixon, Treas.; M.A. Lanes, Sec’y; W.M. Anderson, S.D.; S.H. Owens, J.D.; J.D. Pitts, Tyler.”

“The Baptist Church shown above has recently undergone extensive repairs and improvements made necessary because of fire damage, which occurred several months ago. Among the improvements made was the installation of a $4,000 pipe organ. The instrument will be dedicated Sunday in connection with a Homecoming Day program.”

“The City CafĂ©, formerly located in a building on East Front Street opposite the L&N Depot, has moved to the Ivey Building three doors north on the same street. The move was made Friday night with everything in readiness for business as usual Saturday morning.”

Daily Weather Observations for Mon., June 24, 2013

Temp: 73.0 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.1 inches

Humidity: 83 percent (High)

Conditions: Overcast; light fog visible in the distance, over 1/2-mile away; birds audible and visible.

Wind: 0.1 mph out of the East.

Barometric Pressure: 29.67 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.1 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.65 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 0.1 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 30.75 inches

NOTES: Today is the 175th day of 2013 and the fourth day of Summer. There are 190 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, June 23, 2013

Stephen King's 'Under the Dome' returns to best-sellers lists this week

Today is Sunday, so that means that it’s time for my weekly breakdown of this week’s Publishers Weekly Best-Sellers Lists. According to those lists, there is only one new book at the top of the four major best-sellers lists this week.

"Joyland" by Stephen King replaced "Entwined with You" by Sylvia Day as the No. 1 book on the trade paperbacks best-sellers list.

"Inferno" by Dan Brown remained the No. 1 book on the hardcover fiction best-sellers list for the fifh straight week.

"Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander" by Phil Robertson and Mark Schlabach retained the top spot on the hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list for the sixth straight week.

"A Wanted Man" by Lee Child remained the No. 1 book on the mass market paperback best-sellers list for the third straight week.

There were five books on this week’s hardcover fiction best-sellers list that weren’t on that list lat week. They (and their places on the list) included "Bad Monkey" by Carl Hiaasen (3), "The Eye of Moloch" by Glenn Beck (4), "The Silver Star" by Jeannette Walls (5), "The King's Deception" by Steve Berry (6) and "The Last Original Wife" by Dorothea Benton (7).

There were two books on this week’s hardcover nonfiction best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They included "Killing Kennedy" by Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard (7) and "The Unwinding" by George Packer (13).

There were two books on this week’s mass market paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They included "The Best of Me" by Nicholas Sparks (12) and "Full Tilt" by Janet Evanovich (14).

There were two books on this week’s trade paperbacks best-sellers list that weren’t on the list last week. They included "Weber's New Real Grilling" by Jamie Purviance (9) and "Under the Dome" by Stephen King (14).

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. "Inferno" by Dan Brown
2. "And the Mountains Echoed" by Khaled Hosseini
3. "Bad Monkey" by Carl Hiaasen
4. "The Eye of Moloch" by Glenn Beck
5. "The Silver Star" by Jeannette Walls
6. "The King's Deception" by Steve Berry
7. "The Last Original Wife" by Dorothea Benton
8. "Zero Hour" by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
9. "Revenge Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger
10. "The Hit" by David Baldacci
11. "Deeply Odd" by Dean Koontz
12. "Vader's Little Princess" by Jeffrey Brown
13. "The Kill Room" by Jeffery Deaver
14. "12th of Never" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
15. "Ladies' Night" by Mary Kay Andrews

HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. "Happy, Happy, Happy" by Phil Robertson
2. "American Gun" by Chris Kyle
3. "The Duck Commander Family" by Willie Robertson, Korie Robertson and Mark Schlabach
4. "Keep it Pithy: Useful Observations in a Tough World" by Bill O'Reilly
5. "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg
6. "Dad Is Fat" by Jim Gaffigan
7. "Killing Kennedy" by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
8. "The Guns at Last Light" by Rick Atkinson
9. "Eleven Rings" by Phil Jackson
10. "The 100" by Jorge Cruise
11. "Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls" by David Sedaris
12. "Revolutionary Summer" by Joseph J. Ellis
13. "The Unwinding" by George Packer
14. "George Washington" by Jack E. Levin
15. "Life Code" by Phil McGraw

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS
1. "A Wanted Man" by Lee Child
2. "One Summer" by David Baldacci
3. "Sea Glass Island" by Sherryl Woods
4. "Big Sky Summer" by Linda Lael Miller
5. "The Storm" by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
6. "Something Wicked" by Lisa Jackson
7. "World War Z" by Max Brooks
8. "Happy Endings" by Nora Roberts
9. "Black List" by Brad Thor
10. "Sweet Talk" by Julie Garwood
11. "Just One Kiss" by Susan Mallery
12. "The Best of Me" by Nicholas Sparks
13. "Leopard's Prey" by Christine Feehan
14. "Full Tilt" by Janet Evanovich
15. "Stolen Prey" by John Sandford

TRADE PAPERBACKS
1. "Joyland" by Stephen King
2. "Entwined with You" by Sylvia Day
3. "Proof of Heaven" by Eben Alexander
4. "World War Z" by Max Brooks
5. "Flight Behavior" by Barbara Kingsolver
6. "Beautiful Ruins" by Jess Walter
7. "Control" by Glenn Beck
8. "DSM-5" by American Psychiatric Association
9. "Weber's New Real Grilling" by Jamie Purviance
10. "Zoo" by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
11. "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" by Cheryl Strayed
12. "Rising Tides" by Nora Roberts
13. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
14. "Under the Dome" by Stephen King
15. "Bared to You" by Sylvia Day

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., June 23, 2013

Temp: 75.4 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches

Humidity: 79 percent (High)

Conditions: Clear skies and sunny with a few trace, whispy clouds; birds audible and visible.

Wind: 0.1 mph out of the East-Southeast.

Barometric Pressure: 29.59 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.15 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.55 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 30.65 inches

NOTES: Today is the 174th day of 2013 and the third day of Summer. There are 191 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, June 22, 2013

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for June 20, 2013

Los Angeles International Airport
FOUR YEARS AGO
JUNE 18, 2009

“The Dodgers won this year’s Evergreen Minor League championship. Players on the team include Drimtri Anderson, Octavious Ballard, Kobe Bradley, ShaNaya Grace, Myeshia King, Gill Tyus, Davis Nix, Kavin Randall, Brandon Rudolph, Dorian Simpson, Kylin Taylor, Christion Watson, Yasmine Woods and Jalen Turner. Coaches on the team include Michael Bradley, Cecil Gill and Richard Nix. Willie Rudolph is manager.”

“Conecuh County native Kelvin Davis headed to California this week to take part in a tryout that will hopefully land the 49-year-old on a pro basketball roster.
“Davis, a 1977 graduate of Lyeffion High School who now lives in Atlanta, traveled to Hawthorne, Calif. this week to take part in the third annual NBA Development League Pre-Draft Camp. The camp is scheduled to begin tomorrow and end on Sunday and is being held at the Hangar Sports Xchange, just minutes from Los Angeles International Airport.”

“Evergreen Little League officials released Tuesday morning the names of players selected to this year’s two Little League all-star teams.
“Players on the 11- and 12-year-old All-Star team include Hunter Bolton, Kristin Booker, Corinthian Cunningham, Steven Hamby, Drew Hardin, Johnny Hart, Zane Lambert, Latreal McCreary, Timothy McDonald, Terrell Riley, Keyshawn Roach, Lanse Robbins, Ethan Roberts and Taylor Chavers.”

19 YEARS AGO
JUNE 16, 1994

“Patrick Ray of Evergreen caught this 7-1/2 pound bass on June 8. Patrick said he caught the bass on a cane pole using wigglers for bait.”

“Six clients of the Conecuh Activity Center participated in the State Special Olympics at Fort Rucker on May 20-22. The participants brought home two gold medals, four silver medals and four bronze medals. Those participating were Derry Jones, Freddie Stanton, Gloria Boney, Sherry Smith and Rosa McCreary. They were accompanied by Staff Member Toyal Oliver and Program Coordinator Leonard Millender.”

“A BASEBALL CAMP for children age 9 to 12 will be held Fri., June 24, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sat., June 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Evergreen Municipal Park, Little League field. Coaches from Faulkner State University and Evergreen’s own Lee Wild will be conducting the baseball camp. The fee for the camp is $30, which includes a T-shirt. To reserve your space, call Karen Burns.”

“3RD ANNUAL BLUEBERRY SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT will be held Sat., June 18, at O’Bannon Park in Brewton. Deadline for registration is Fri., June 17. Entry is $110. First through fourth place trophies with individual trophies to championship team. ASA umpires, two homeruns and an out rule applies. For info call Joey Weaver or Jeff Bell.”

34 YEARS AGO
JUNE 21, 1979

“Bill Cope wins Stuart Trophy: Bill Cope, who graduated with the Class of 1979, won one of the most coveted athletic awards at Sparta Academy for the 1978-79 school year when he was presented the D.T. Stuart Jr. Sportsmanship Trophy. The presentation took place during graduation exercises on May 24.
“Bill, son of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Cope, North Main Street, earned letters in football his last four years at Sparta. He played primarily as an offensive lineman until his senior year when he was outstanding on both offense and defense ‘in the trenches.’
“The Stuart Trophy, awarded here for over 30 years, is highly desired because the winner is determined by the vote of members of the football team. His Warrior teammates chose Bill for the high honor.
“It is interesting to recall that Bill’s father, an outstanding two-way tackle on some of Evergreen High School’s better football teams in the 1950s, also won the Stuart Sportsmanship Trophy his senior year.
“Tal Stuart Jr. began awarding the trophy in the late 1940s to encourage hard, but fair, play by local football players.”

“Trip Hendrix and Wayne Harrelson share the honors on this trophy bass. The fish was 24 inches long and weighed 8-1/8 pounds. Trip and Wayne said they caught this big one ‘out of the water.’”

49 YEARS AGO
JUNE 18, 1964

“Despite a six-run Brave second inning, the determined Pirates would not be denied and kept fighting back until they emerged victorious 8-7 Thursday night.
“The big Brave second inning was highlighted by two RBIs by Jud Stinson and a run-scoring triple by Johnny Brown. The Pirates began to roll in the third inning as they pushed across three runs, the big blow of the inning being Eddie Thornley’s triple. In the fifth inning, the Pirates struck for two more runs on Glenn Bolton’s double after Hicks and Thornley had walked.
“The Braves rallied for a run in the sixth as Gray Sullivan reached first base on an error, moved to third and scored on a passed ball. In the seventh inning, the Pirates wrapped it up as Eddie Thornley singled, stole second and third, and came home on a single by Benny Burt. Tommy Chapman started for the Pirates and was relieved by Wayne Hicks in the sixth. Johnny Brown started and took the loss for the Braves. Wayne Hicks got the win.”

“Coach Shirley Frazier, director of the Evergreen Recreation Department’s summer program is asking for instructors for a baseball clinic. Clinic instruction will be on catching, pitching, infield and outfield. Coach Frazier said that the clinic will be held from 8 to 10 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Anyone interested in helping with the clinic can contact Frazier at the Evergreen Pool.”

“Gary Faulkner and Ronnie Elliot combined to pitch the Tigers past the Indians as they scattered three hits and provided the difference in a 5-2 Tiger win. The Tigers started their scoring early in the game as Bubba Faulkner was hit by a pitch, stole second and came home on a wild pick-off attempt.”

64 YEARS AGO
JUNE 16, 1949

“Tournament Play Advances Slowly: Play in the City Golf Tournament was slowed considerably this past week by rains; however several matches were played. In the Championship matches, C.T. Ivey beat Dr. Bill Turk and Roy Pace won out over Bayne Petrey in an extended match. Remaining matches are between Bonnie King and C.A. Jones, and L.K. Wiggins and Hub Robison. The winner of the King-Jones match will play Roy Pace, the winner of the Wiggins-Robison match will play Billy Carleton, the winner of the later match playing Knud Nielsen in the semifinals. In the consolation, W.P. Price defeated Truman Hyde and there are no other matches reported.”

“J.J. (Jack) Finklea, principal of Evergreen High School and director of the summer recreation program, announced this week that a sports program for boys from the age of eight through high school will start Monday. All boys interested in participating in this program are asked to meet at Memorial Gym Monday morning, June 30, at nine o’clock.
“The program will include touch football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, tennis and golf. A weekly schedule of games will be worked out Monday for all are interested.”

“The Evergreen American Legion Junior Baseball Team for 16-year-old and under boys has nine more games scheduled on their 14-game season. The local team is sponsored jointly by the Legion and the Evergreen Motor Car Co.”

Daily Weather Observations for Sat., June 22, 2013

Temp: Not recorded.

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches

Humidity: Not recorded.

Conditions: Not recorded.

Wind: Not recorded.

Barometric Pressure: Not recorded.

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.15 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.55 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 30.65 inches

NOTES: Today is the 173rd day of 2013 and the second day of Summer. There are 192 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, June 21, 2013

Only 71 days remain until the start of the 2013 prep football season

As hard as it is to believe, the start of the high school football season is a little over 10 weeks away.

Hillcrest High School and Sparta Academy will both kick off their 2013 seasons on Fri., Aug. 31, in Evergreen – just 71 days from today. Hillcrest will play Washington County High School at Brooks Memorial Stadium, and Sparta will play Pickens Academy at Stuart-McGehee Field.

In the meantime, I know the head coaches at both schools will be working hard to prepare their players for the start of the new season. Expectations are especially high for both teams this year, and a lot of local fans are looking forward to the start of the new season. I hate to rush things, but like a lot of people, I’ll be glad to see that first kickoff.

----- 0 -----

Sports fans in the audience who like a good book will be interested to hear that a sports-related book was listed in this week’s Publishers Weekly nonfiction best-sellers list.

According to the list released last Thursday, “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success” by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty was No. 8 on the list.

Jackson is best known for being the head coach of the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. During that time, he won six NBA titles with the Bulls and five with the Lakers. His combined 11 championships represents more titles than any other coach in pro sports history.

According to the publisher, “Eleven Rings” describes how Jackson, a preacher’s son from North Dakota, rose through the basketball ranks, won an NBA title as a New York Knicks player in the 70s and went on to coach such basketball legends as Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Kobe Bryant. If you enjoy pro basketball, you’ll probably enjoy this book, which is available through retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Nobles for less than $17 a copy.

----- 0 -----

As of Monday, the San Antonio Spurs held a 3-2 lead over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals with Game Six in the series set to take place Tuesday in Miami. Miami is favored to win that game by seven points, and if it goes to a Game Seven that game will be played Thursday in Miami. It will tip off at 8 p.m. and will be televised on ABC.

----- 0 -----

Once basketball season is over, we’ll be left with baseball to watch until the start of football season. The Atlanta Braves are doing good so far with just a few weeks left until the All-Star Break. They’re 41-28 overall and in first place in the National League East.

The St. Louis Cardinals have the best record in the majors, 44-25, a winning percentage of .638. They’re sitting atop the NL Central standings. The Arizona Diamondbacks, 37-32, are No. 1 in the NL West.

The Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s are both 42-29 overall. Boston’s No. 1 in the American League East, and Oakland’s the top team in the AL West. The Detroit Tigers are leading the AL Central with a record of 28-29 overall.

Daily Weather Observations for Fri., June 21, 2013

Temp: 73.8 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.0 inches

Humidity: 78 percent (High)

Conditions: Clear skies; birds audible and visible; dogs audible.

Wind: 1.3 mph out of the East-Northeast.

Barometric Pressure: 29.63 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.15 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.55 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 0.0 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 30.65 inches

NOTES: Today is the 172nd day of 2013 and the first day of Summer. There are 193 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, June 20, 2013

Don't miss the chance to check out the 'Super Moon' on Sunday night

My trusty calendar tells me that tomorrow (Friday) will be the first official day of summer with the summer solstice occurring at 12:04 a.m. Many of you will remember from your high school science classes that the summer solstice is the longest day of the year. That’s not to say that the day is more than 24 hours long, but only that we receive more daylight on that day than any other day of the year.

The summer solstice is one of two solstices on the calendar each year with the other being its exact opposite, the winter solstice. The winter solstice marks the first official day of winter and is the shortest day of the year. The two solstices, along with the two equinoxes on the calendar, tell us when the four seasons of the year begin and end.

This coming Monday, June 24, will be Midsummer Day, which obviously does not mark the middle of summer as its name seems to indicate. Back in the old days, Midsummer Day, which usually falls around the summer solstice, marked the halfway point between planting and harvesting. This was always a good excuse for farmers to have a big party, and, as you might remember from English class, William Shakespeare made all of this famous in his classic comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

In the old days, Midsummer Eve and Midsummer Day were good times to have a wedding. In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the events in the story are set around the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta. Even for a play written in the 1590s, it’s hilarious, and if you ever get the chance to see it, do so, especially if you find it on the schedule at the Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery.

Also, if you find yourself out in the yard on Sunday night take a few minutes to look up at the moon. If we have clear skies, you should be able to see what’s called the Full Strawberry Moon or “Super Moon,” which is the closest and largest full moon of the year. The moon will look bigger than usual because it’s at perigee, that is, it’ll be the closest to Earth in its orbit until the next perigee, which isn’t scheduled to happen again until August 2014.

On Sunday, the moon will rise at 8:12 p.m. and will set at 5:52 a.m. It’s no telling how all of this will affect our local, freshwater fishermen, but if you plan to go deep sea fishing on that day, you can certainly expect a high tide thanks to the Super Moon. They’ll get a double whammy if it’s windy, which might really mess up the chance to catch a big fish.

Who is to say what kind of summer we have to look forward to? I suspect it’ll be real hot, but that should go without saying. Our long range forecast calls for a fair amount of rain with the threat of tropical storms developing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Daily Weather Observations for Thurs., June 20, 2013

Temp: 77.2 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.15 inches

Humidity: 77 percent (High)

Conditions: Clear skies; birds audible.

Wind: 0.1 mph out of the North.

Barometric Pressure: 29.58 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.15 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.55 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 30.65 inches

NOTES: Today is the 171st day of 2013 and the 93rd day of Spring. There are 194 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, June 19, 2013

Desert View Watchtower was named historic landmark in 1987

Desert View Watchtower
This week’s featured historical marker is the “Desert View Watchtower” marker that I encountered during a recent visit to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

This marker is located right outside the watchtower, just off the paved footpath leading up the tower’s entrance. The tower itself is located at Desert View Point on the South Rim of the canyon, about 20 miles from Grand Canyon Village. The tower is located just off Desert View Drive (or East Rim Drive or Highway 64).

What follows is the complete text from the marker.

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“DESERT VIEW WATCHTOWER has been designated a NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK. This site possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America – 1987 – National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.

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Desert View Historical Marker


This watchtower is one of the coolest places you’ll visit at the Grand Canyon. It’s four stories tall and reaches a height of 70 feet and has a 30-foot base. Completed in 1932, this masonry tower provides sweeping views from this point on the canyon’s rim.

The lower level of the tower now contains a sizeable gift shop. Visitors gain access to the upper three floors by flights of narrow stairs that wind their way along the side of the tower. The second floor also consists of an outdoors observation deck that’s actually outside the tower.

Other facts about the tower include:

- The tower was designed by Mary Colter, an architect who worked for the Fred Harvey Co. She designed it to resemble old, prehistoric Native American watchtowers. Some say it was designed to mimic old Anasazi watchtowers.

- Hopi artist Fred Kabotie and Fred Greer were the artists who drew the murals and petroglyph drawings inside the tower. Kabotie also served for a time as the watchtower’s caretaker.

- The tower contains logs that were salvaged from the old Grandview Hotel on the Grand Canyon’s Horseshoe Mesa. The tower’s internal framework is made of steel and was designed by bridge builders who worked for the Sante Fe Railway.

- The very top of the tower is closed to visitors and is used as a base for radio equipment.

- The watchtower was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Jan. 3, 1995.

- Not only can you see the Grand Canyon from the tower, but you can also see the Painted Desert to the east, the San Francisco Peaks to the south and the Vermillion Cliffs. You can also see the Colorado River, the North Rim just 10 miles away and up to 100 miles away on a clear day.

- The tower is the highest point on the South Rim of the canyon.

- Although completed in 1932, the watchtower didn’t open to the public until May 1933.

In the end, visit this site next Wednesday to learn about another historical marker. I’m also taking suggestions from the reading audience, so if you know of an interesting historical marker that you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments section below.

This week's movie picks are 'World War Z' and '21 & Over'

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 or pick up at the local Redbox.

Movies that are scheduled to hit theatres this week include:

- As Cool as I Am (Comedy, Drama, R): Directed by Max Mayer and starring Claire Danes, Jeremy Sisto, James Marsden, Peter Fonda and Sarah Bolger.

- Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire (Documentary, PG-13): Directed by Kris Koenig and starring the voice of Ice-T.

- Compulsion (Suspense, Drama, R): Directed by Egidio Coccimiglio and starring Heather Graham, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Mantegna, Kevin Dillon and Kate Trotter.

- A Hijacking (Drama, Suspense, R): Directed by Tobias Lindholm and starring Johan Philip Asbaek, Soren Malling, Dar Salim, Amalie Ihle Alstrup and Amalie Vulff Andersen.

- Liars All (Suspense, Crime, R): Directed by Brian Blightly and starring Matt Lanter, Torrance Coombs, Gillian Zinser, Alice Evans and Sara Paxton.

- Maniac (Suspense, Horror, Not Yet Rated): Directed by Franck Khalfoun and starring Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezeder, America Olivo, Liane Balaban and Megan Duffy.

- Monsters University (Comedy, Family, G): Directed by Dan Scanlon and starring the voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina and Julia Sweeney.

- Unfinished Song (Drama, Comedy, PG-13): Directed by Paul Andrew Williams and starring Terence Stamp, Gemma Arterton, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Eccleston and Anne Reid.

- World War Z (Suspense, Action, Horror, PG-13): Directed by Marc Forster and starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale and Elyes Gabel.

New DVD releases this week include:

- 21 & Over (Comedy, R): Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and starring Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Skylar Astin, Sarah Wright and Samantha Futerman.

- American Mary (Horror, Suspense, R): Directed by Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska and starring Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cup, Tristan Risk, David Lovgren and Paula Lindberg.

- The Brass Teapot (Comedy, Fantasy, R): Directed by Ramaa Mosley and starring Juno Temple, Michael Angarano, Bobby Moynihan, Alexis Bledel and Stephen Park.

- Gibsonburg (Drama, Not Rated): Directed by Jonathon Kimble and Bob Mahaffey and starring Louis Bonfante, Lili Reinhart, Judy Tenuta, Jonnie Wagner and Dusty Shidaker.

- Jack the Giant Slayer (Adventure, Fantasy, Action, PG-13): Directed by Bryan Singer and starring Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci and Warwick Davis.

- Kung Fu Panda Legends of Awesomeness: Good Croc, Bad Croc (Childrens, Not Rated).

- The Last Exorcism Part II (Horror, Suspense, PG-13): Directed by Ed Grass-Donnelly and starring Ashley Bell, Judd Lormand, Spencer Treat Clark, Julia Garner and E. Roger Mitchell.

- Movie 43 (Comedy, R): Directed by Elizabeth Banks, et. al. and starring Halley Berry, Kate Bosworth, Justin Long, Chris Pratt and J.B. Smoove.

- Quartet (Comedy, Drama, PG-13): Directed by Dustin Hoffman and starring Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay and Sheridan Smith.

- Stoker (Suspense, Drama, R): Directed by Chan-wook Park and starring Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney and Lucas Till.

If I could only watch one movie at the theatre this week, it would be “World War Z,” and if I had to pick just one DVD to rent this week, it would be “21 & Over.”

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., June 19, 2013

Temp: 71.6 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.8 inches

Humidity: 83 percent (High)

Conditions: Mostly Cloudy skies; thunder audible; birds audible; ground wet and standing water visible from recent rain.

Wind: 0.1 mph out of the West-Northwest.

Barometric Pressure: 29.50 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.0 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.40 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 30.50 inches

NOTES: Today is the 170th day of 2013 and the 92nd day of Spring. There are 195 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, June 18, 2013

Kiernan's 'The Drowning Girl' wins Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel

The Horror Writers Association announced this year’s slate of Bram Stoker Award winners on Sunday at the World Horror Convention in New Orleans.

Named after the author of “Dracula,” these awards are presented annually for “superior achievement” in horror writing, and this year marked the 26th anniversary of the awards.

This year’s winner in the Best Novel category was “The Drowning Girl” by Caitlin R. Kiernan.

In the category for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, this year’s winner was “Life Rage” by L.L. Soares.

This year’s winner in the category of Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel was “Flesh & Bone” by Jonathan Maberry.

This year’s winner in the category for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel was “Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times” by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton.

In the category for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction, this year’s winner was “The Blue Heron” by Gene O’Neill.

Lucy Snyder’s “Magdala Amygdala” won top honors in the category for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction.

There was a tie in the category for Superior Achievement in a Collection. The winners in that category included “New Moon on the Water” by Mort Castle and “Black Dahlia and White Rose: Stories” by Joyce Carol Oates.

Mort Castle and Sam Weller were the editors of “Shadow Show,” which garnered top honors in the category for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

This year’s winner in the category for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction was “Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween” by Lisa Morton.

In the category for Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection, this year’s winner was “Vampires, Zombies & Wanton Souls” by Marge Simon.

The HWA’s annual award for Best Novel is arguably the top honor bestowed by the group each year. What follows is an all-time list of the Best Novel winners.

1987 (tie) – Misery by Stephen King
1987 (tie) – Swan Song by Robert McCammon
1988 – The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
1989 – Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
1990 – Mine by Robert McCammon
1991 - Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
1992 – The Blood of the Lamb by Thomas F. Monteleone
1993 – The Throat by Peter Straub (pictured above)
1994 – Dead in the Water by Nancy Holder
1995 – Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates
1996 – The Green Mile by Stephen King
1997 – Children of the Dusk (Madagascar Manifesto Trilogy) by Janet Berliner
1998 – Bag of Bones by Stephen King
1999 – Mr. X by Peter Straub
2000 – The Traveling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon
2001 – American Gods by Neil Gaiman
2002 – The Night Class by Tom Piccirilli
2003 – Lost Boy, Lost Girl by Peter Straub
2004 – In the Night Room by Peter Straub
2005 (tie) – Creepers by David Morrell
2005 (tie) – Dread In the Beast by Charlee Jacob
2006 – Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
2007 – The Missing by Sarah Langan
2008 – Duma Key by Stephen King
2009 – Audrey’s Door by Sarah Langan
2010 – A Dark Matter by Peter Straub
2011 – Flesh Eaters by Joe McKinney
2012 – The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan

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

Daily Weather Observations for Tues., June 18, 2013

Temp: 78.8 degrees F

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.2 inches

Humidity: 80 percent (High)

Conditions: Partly Cloudy skies; birds audible; flying insects visible.

Wind: 0.1 mph out of the South.

Barometric Pressure: 29.48 inHg

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.2 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 2.60 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 29.70 inches

NOTES: Today is the 169th day of 2013 and the 91st day of Spring. There are 196 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, June 17, 2013

LIFE LIST UPDATE – No. 1: Attend a Beulah Campground service

'Old timey' Beulah Camp transportation.
I’ve lived in the vicinity of the Beulah Campground for a number of years now, and I’ve always wanted to go to a church service there. I officially added this to my “life list” last year and finally took the time to attend one of these services on Saturday morning.

It’s hard to grow up in Monroe County and not hear at least a little something about the Beulah Campground services. Now in its 72nd year, the South Alabama Holiness Camp Meeting Association, commonly called the Beulah Camp, was established in July 1941. Services were first held in June 1942 with the purpose of “promoting and directing an annual camp meeting which is interdenominational, and which is for the spread of Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification or scriptural holiness."

Services are held annually at the camp, usually starting on the first or second Thursday in June. The camp is located at 798 Beulah Campground Road, about 1-1/4 mile south of State Highway 136, between the towns of Excel and Repton. For more information about the camp’s history, visit its official Web site at www.beulahcampmeeting.org.

One of the neat things about the Beulah Camp services is that it’s “old timey.” Similar to the brush arbor services of old, Beulah Camp services are held in a mostly outdoors setting. The main services are held beneath a large pavilion, and the audience sits on large, old-style pews. Decades-old songbooks are also used, and the service on Saturday morning featured a foot-washing ceremony, which is something that I’d never seen before in person. Some of those in attendance also drove to the services in vintage cars like the one pictured above.

I especially enjoyed Saturday morning’s service because the featured speaker was the Rev. Lance Sawyer, a native of Monroe County. Sawyer, 43, is currently the pastor at the First Baptist Church of Muskogee, Okla., and if you’ve never heard him preach you’re missing out. He’s a gifted, inspiring, old-fashioned preacher and one of the finest communicators I’ve ever heard in a pulpit. Mixing stories and humor to get his message across, he’s able to make his point to a wide variety of listeners. I’ve never listened to one of his sermons and not walked away wanting to try to be a better person.

Many of you may be familiar with Sawyer because of his outstanding radio program, which aired locally up until recently on one of our local radio stations. I was sad to hear on Saturday that Sawyer had to discontinue his local radio program because it no longer has a sponsor. If you know of anyone interested in sponsoring his program to get it back on the air, please let me know. It will be money well spent.

In the end, I enjoyed the opportunity to finally attend one of the services at the Beulah Camp and will likely do so again. How many of you have ever been to one of these services? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments below.

LIFE LIST UPDATE – No. 272: Hike the Grand Canyon

The view from the Grand Canyon's Powell Point.
I scratched another item off my “life list” on Monday of last week when I finally got the chance to go hiking in the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is famous for its many hiking trails, and this is something that I’ve wanted to do ever since reading an article about those trails in an issue of Backpacker magazine a few years ago. My family took a two-day trip to the Grand Canyon last week, and we hiked portions of the Grand Canyon National Park’s Rim Trail on Monday of last week.

One thing that I learned pretty quick about hiking at the Grand Canyon is that there is a huge difference between hiking along the rim of the canyon and hiking to the bottom of the canyon and back to the top. Since my wife and I had our two young children along on the trip we decided not to attempt to hike to the bottom and back because the park staff doesn’t advise you trying to do so all in one day due to the difficulty of the trail. We’d only planned to spend two days at the park, so we decided to limit our hiking to the Rim Trail, which was still pretty nice.

The Rim Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park. It’s 13 miles long and is at an elevation of 6,820 feet. The trail is relatively flat, and most of it is paved with asphalt. We got on the trail just north of the Grand Canyon Visitors Center and got our first real view of the canyon at Mather Point, which is the closest overlook to the visitors center.

The trail will also take you to Powell Point, which was named in honor of Grand Canyon explorer, John Wesley Powell. Powell Point even features a large memorial to Powell and the men who accompanied him on his historic survey trip through the Grand Canyon. That point also features a Masonic monument that was erected by Flagstaff Lodge No. 7.

There were a fair amount of hikers on the trail, but it wasn’t overly crowded. We also encountered more than a few people with young children in tow. In addition to hikers on foot, cyclists also made use of the trail and you’d often hear them before you’d see them coming because they’d ring their handlebar bells when rounding a blind corner.

I hope to return to the Grand Canyon some day, and if I’m able and have the time, I hope to hike to the bottom of the canyon. After spending the night there, and soaking my feet in the Colorado River, I’ll hike back up. That would definitely be bucket list worthy trip as well.

In the end, how many of you have ever done any hiking at the Grand Canyon? Which trails did you hike? How far did you hike? What did you think about the experience? Let us know in the comments section below.