“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

Wi-Fi on the road
Saturday, January 30, 2010

I don't know if y'all know this, but McDonalds restaurants nationwide have started offering free Wi-Fi, and this makes traveling much easier. I have always used McDonalds for my bathroom breaks, peeing and dashing without buying any of their nasty food. But now it's a twofer: Bladder relief and facebook fix. You know how all McDonalds are designed in that L shape? You just enter in the side door and walk back to the bathrooms, then settle into a booth and log on, out of sight of the counter.

Problem: Some of the more savvy managers are starting to look out for cyber moochers like myself. I was at a McDonalds somewhere in north Texas, checking my email, when a manager looked behind the corner and saw me, sans food, typing away. I smiled sheepishly, nodded at him, closed my laptop, and walked up to the counter to order a Big Mac.

"We appreciate your business," he said to me. "Glad you like the new Wi-Fi."

Now, I'm wondering: Will the Wi-Fi reach the bathroom, where I can go undetected? Maybe I'll just facebook from the toilet.

Scary Moment in the Men's Room
Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This just happened in the Columbus airport: I was standing at the urinal, doing my business, when a man walked up to the urinal next to me and, as he unbuckled his pants, asked, "So, are you excited?"

I was just about to tell him "no" when I noticed he had a bluetooth headset on his opposite ear.

Crisis averted.

Dear Oklahoma City Public Works Director ...
Sunday, January 24, 2010

I recently spent three days in your city, and while I enjoyed the pigeon museum, the western-wear stores and the barbecue I was bothered by a multitude of things that need addressed:

1. Please fix your roads, and pass this message on to your counterpart at the state level. I have never driven on worse roads anywhere. I repeat: ANYWHERE. Dirt roads in Kansas provide a smoother ride than your freeways.

2. Include in your driver's manual something about MERGING. Never have I encountered so many people who choose to run you down rather than move over to an empty spot in the next lane.

3. Straighten those telephone poles. They give your city the appearance of having been through a bad fight at the bar.

4. A few sidewalks, perhaps? I was forced to jog in a circle in a Wal-mart parking lot, feeling very much like a greyhound or gerbil.

5. Perhaps some zoning laws? Electrical sub-station next to daycare next to Burger King next to apartment complex?

You can find more at my new website: ABetterOklahomaCity.com

With deepest regards and sincerity,
Mr. Fussy

Report from Oklahoma City: Pigeon Capital of the World
Friday, January 22, 2010

Now, I can find interesting things just about every place I go, and Oklahoma City is no exception.
After perusing the map, my writer friend and I decided that the World of Wings Pigeon Museum was a definite must-see. Apparently, OKC is the world headquarters and hotbed of homing pigeon activity.

We drove out to a run-down old mansion on the edge of town and helped ourselves into the building, which didn't hold much more than some pigeon cages and a curious collection of porcelain pigeons. Disappointed, we headed out to snoop around the pigeon coops. That's when Duane, whom I'm calling Crazy Pigeon Guy (related to Crazy Cat Lady), started talking with us and telling us fascinating things about pigeons.
1. They mate for life.
2. Male sits on the eggs during the day while mom takes a break.
3. When pigeons en route to their home encounter fierce headwinds, they fly just a few feet from the ground. (Unfortunately, this means they sometimes smack into semi-trucks on the highways.)
4. Also when flying, they normally use the sun as their navigational aid, but if there are clouds, they fly close to the ground and navigate using the magnetic pulls emanating from the earth.
5. There's a dedicated group of people who race these pigeons. They send the pigeons to a starting point, hundreds of miles away, where someone releases them at the same time. The pigeons have a computer chip on their foot. When they finally return home, they know to land and hop back into their home coop, and a computer notes their arrival. One time the winner won a brand new pickup truck. (For those of you too young to know: pigeons were used extensively to send clandestine messages during World War I. There's even a roster of pigeon war heroes in the museum.)

The other very cool thing about Oklahoma City is the airport's official name: Will Rogers World Airport. The logo is a drawing of the famous cowboy lassoing the globe.

One last word on Girlfriend Weekend
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Here's a link to my report on Girlfriend Weekend for Readinggroupguides.com

Girlfriend Weekend: Final Report
Monday, January 18, 2010

The climax of the Pulpwood Queen's Girlfriend Weekend (go to Beautyandthebook.com to find out more about this), was the Great Hair Ball. Theme this year was Wizard of Oz, and you won't believe how much effort went into peoples' costumes. Look at these book clubs from Texas:

Look closely at the pink ladies: Every character from Wizard of Oz is represented, but in a pink, girly way. And the good witches in white? Aren't they the prettiest things you've ever seen? Those hats are made from trashcans!

I came as Oz himself. My daughter thought of the idea and made my costume. Here I am with a mother/daughter duo from Texas who went as Munchkins.

A surreal evening
Saturday, January 16, 2010

Another report from Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, TX: Not only did I play Anal-Retentive Cowboy Ken in the Barbie and Ken Fashion Show, but I also participated in the improv Barbie and Ken play in which I portrayed Candy Cane, a stripper. All that came off was my belt. Honest.

Afterwards, a crazy dance to some raucous music. Observation: When a lot of women get together and party on a weekend in costume, things get pretty wild. I am still picking money out of my clothes.

Craziest dance: With three blond Barbies who came as "Three-way Barbie" Photos to come later.

Report from Jefferson, Texas
Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm at the Beauty and the Book (world's only hair salon/book store) Girlfriend Weekend. I and two other male authors were invited to join the all-female cast, and I am already having a hoot: Time to dish about last night's dinner, in which authors worked as waiters at a banquet of book lovers:

Mary Kay Andrews writes great books, but boy oh boy is she clumsy with a tray of dishes. Keep that girl out of the kitchen.

Pat Conroy is one of the nicest uber-successful writers I've met. Last night he spent a good half hour writing personal checks and buying the books of first-time authors whom he wanted to encourage.

Patti Callahan Henry is just PLAIN TROUBLE! She got me in a mess during the banquet because she was laughing too loud. (The reader-diners stared us down in a big way). Perhaps they were miffed because we'd helped ourselves to the wine bottle on their table. Seriously, Patti is charming, and if you haven't read any of her NYTimes-bestselling books, you're missing out.

That's all for now. I'll report next time on the Barbie and Ken fashion show...tonight...at the Jefferson, Texas Convention Center.

Hey, you look just like ...
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Okay, I am already seeing a pattern here in Music City: Everywhere I go I see female sales clerks, waitresses, etc. who look and sound like country music stars. There was the redhead at the shoe store in Green Hills Mall who looked and sounded just like Reba Mcentire. And there's Cathy at Downtown Cleaners (Since 1946) just outside our condo tower on Church Street; she looks and sounds so much like Loretta Lynn, I found myself flirting with her just so she'd keep talking.

I'm realizing, through listening to accents, that a lot of the country-western stars from my childhood (aka classic country) most likely hailed from Tennessee. Not Georgia or Mississippi or the Carolinas. The original Tennessee accent is different, originating more from the nasal cavity than the throat, as does the Georgia accent.

Old Country vs. New Country
Sunday, January 10, 2010

I grew up in a small town on the High Plains of eastern Colorado where we had just one radio station; KNAB played country-western, period, and because I had no other option I rebelled against it as a teenager.

As an adult in the process of moving to Nashville, I've been re-examining country ... and here's what I've decided: I don't like the new country at all*; it sounds too much like the pop music from the 70s. Oddly, I've discovered that I do like the country I grew up with: Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Patsy Cline. You know: that music that gets all twangy. My wife bought me a collection of the old country, and I listened to it all the way up to Nashville. In my truck. Wearing my boots. Damn ... I guess I was destined to live in Nashville....although Nashville isn't really country; it just pretends to be. More on this later as Ad Hudler Author deconstructs Music City for a book.

*Okay, Taylor Swift is an exception. I think she's as cute as a newborn piglet.

A note on baldness
Friday, January 8, 2010

When a haircut means getting out the razor you know you have a different haircare routine than most. I need to shave today (I call it the "full egg:" face AND scalp).

But I must say: I'm having trouble mustering up the courage today -- and I know why. It's 36 degrees outside in Fort Myers, Florida. And, well, when the weather's that cold, it's counter-intuitive to shave any hair from your body.

Sometimes I miss my hair. I had very nice hair years ago. Recently, my wife's executive assistant, seeing an old picture of me, said, "It's a good thing you lost your hair." I asked why. She replied: "Because no man should have prettier hair than his wife."

Frigid on Coconut Drive
Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Okay, as I write this it's 34 degrees outside, which would be just fine in, say, Flint or Rapid City but this is supposed to be the subtropics. I have even started wearing my flannel p.j's from Target, the ones with the little trains and trucks on them. (Yes, they do make those in adult sizes.)

Still, I've been colder. Once, we lived in a highrise in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota during January. I remember the weather forecaster saying on the nightly news, "Now, remember that exposed human flesh can freeze in an under a minute in these conditions."

Intrigued, my mother (who was visiting) and I decided to try an experiment. We filled a glass with vodka. She bundled up and went downstairs to the sidewalk beneath our 22nd-floor condo, and I went out to the balcony and poured it over the edge. Alcohol shouldn't freeze, right? But I heard my Smirnoff transform into ice and clink against the building all the way down. ... Mom came back up to confirm the test: Vodka was frozen. And so was she.

Snapshot from the Past: 1985
Monday, January 4, 2010

A Florida scene: Girl named Donna in a blue Trans-Am, putting on mascara during stop at red light...wearing a red fake-satin jacket. Bruce Springsteen playing on cassette tape player in car. Plans on going to Bennigan's after work with the girls she works with in the office at Gulf Coast Dermatology. Hates her mauve smock she has to wear at work. Just broke up with a boyfriend named Mike who works in the stereo section of Circuit City. Donna's girlfriends rented a limo for her birthday last week and took her to see the Chippendales dancers at Party City where they drank strawberry daiquiris. She wishes her name was Kerri.

Girlfriends' Weekend
Saturday, January 2, 2010

When I presented at a book festival in Atlanta this past year I was lucky to meet a celebrity of sorts that I'd heard much about: Kathy "Kat" Patrick. Kat owns the world's only bookstore/beauty salon, located in the little town of Jefferson, Texas. Over the years she's become the hair stylist of choice for southern female authors and also has created a network of book clubs so vast that she's been featured on Oprah and in The New York Times. She's also very funny.

In Atlanta, she said, after watching me present, "You are officially invited to the Girlfriend Weekend this year."

At first, I thought she was hitting on me ... I mean, after all, I was wearing my very nicest straw cowboy hat and female-friendly purple shirt. But then she and fellow southern authors River Jordan and Shellie Rushing Tomlinson filled me in on the weekend: It's a huge celebration of authors putting on skits and talent shows and such ... all attended by members of book clubs from throughout the south.

So, I'm off in my truck to east Texas for The Girlfriend Weekend, Jan. 13-17...as a token male. (Details at this clever link) And after that, I'm going to do some exploring in Texas and parts of Oklahoma, with another writer friend, Nancy Zafris, editor of the Flannery O'Connor award for short fiction. I'm going to be gone a month, rambling about the west in my truck. I'll keep you posted on my travels as I work on my VERY SECRET NON-FICTION PROJECT...which I am not talking about in fear of jinxing the works.