“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

An upside-down Christmas
Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'm in my hometown of Burlington, Colorado for Thanksgiving, and last night I had a few drinks with my high-school best-friend Tommy Herman. How good of friends? This good of friends: We used to dress up as super heroes with towels as capes and run around town pretending to fight crime. Yes ... in high school. We would stop cars in our Super Hero voice (Halt!), and if they did not cooperate we would moon them. There was one girl who would burst into tears every time our pants came down, so, of course, we pursued her the most. Once, we chased her into a bathroom in 7-11 and waited there until she came out for the Double Full Moon. These are the things you do on a Friday night in a town of 3,528 residents.

Tommy's now a dad with four young girls (two are twins) who are just as energetic. So (and I wish I had a picture of this), what do he and his wife, Tracy, do every year for Christmas? They HANG THE TREE UPSIDE DOWN FROM THE CEILING, completely decorated. Of course, now that the girls are middle-school age they don't need to do this, but it has become a tradition the family does not want to abandon.

I forgot to ask Tommy: What do you do with the presents?

Missing a piece?
Monday, November 22, 2010

After two years of college in Ohio our daughter has decided that she misses the South and will return here for law school and the rest of life. It makes sense: Between Macon and Fort Myers, she has spent most of her life in Dixie, but, like all teenagers, she thought she was missing out on something and wanted to leave to discover what that exactly was. Evidently, it was gray skies and cold weather and little boys and girls who (gasp) do not say "ma'am" and "sir."

So, we have a Southern Renaissance in our house these days. Haley finally read "Gone With The Wind." It is her new obsession.
She's eating up anything Lilly Pulitzer.
And now, prompted by a book on Southern women, she's become fascinated by silver patterns (as in eating utensils.)

True story: When we lived in Macon we were spending a weekend on St. Simon's Island with native-southern friends when we passed a small shop and the man said, "Oh this is a great spot to get a missing piece of your silver."

Me and Carol: "Silver?"

Friend: "Certainly. What is your pattern?"

Carol: "You mean like knives and forks, right? My mom has the family silver right now. We don't have any."

Friend: "Well, what is the pattern?"

Carol: "I don't know."

Friend (incredulous): "My dear ... I'm sure you are the only woman in north Macon ... CERTAINLY the only woman in the St. Andrews subdivision ... who does not know her silver pattern!"

End note: The silver is ours now. The pattern: Rose Something-or-other.

Friday, November 19, 2010

From personal experience:

1. You think all the young girls are dressing too slutty.

2. The Life Alert commercial ("I've fallen and I can't get up") no longer elicits laughter but concern.

3. You drop a pencil on the floor and say, "Oh, I'll get that later."

4. The oldies stations are now playing stuff from your high-school years.

It's all kind of cliche, I realize, but if the shoe fits ...

Is this why Barnes and Noble is up for sale?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I saw this in a hip retail store in Nashville. What's your reaction?
As an author, it bothered me. Seemed almost a little disrespectful of books. Have books become so retro that we're using them as furniture? Does having a desk of books make you feel smarter? After all, you're studying atop an almost infinite supply of wisdom.

It's not the first time I've seen books treated with disrespect. I remember meeting someone who owned a small bookstore in suburban Chicago. She got a call once from a decorator who asked her how much she charged for a "yard of books." And they only wanted nice ones, hardcover, please, with plenty of shades of green. Emerald, if possible.

Consider phone books. When was the last time you picked up a phone book? They're shrinking in size every year for good reason; they are unnecessary. When I need a referral for a service worker (plumber, etc.) I put out the call on facebook: "Attention all SWFlorida friends. Who has a roofer they trust?" And the facebook community comes through every time.

I am not a Luddite. I have a Droid phone and I really like my Kindle for traveling on the road when I want to pack lightly. (Incidentally, I just discovered a way to safely take ebooks to the beach: put them in a gallon-size Ziploc bag. The buttons work fine through the plastic, and no problem with sand.)

But books being used as furniture? What's next? My guess: catalog companies will started shredding and using them for packing material.

Stand up for books, people! Treat them with respect. Don't make them your beasts of burden. Make them your beasts of pleasure.

Signs that you live in the subtropics: #4309H4
Friday, November 12, 2010

I separated some overgrown snake-tongue plants today (also known as mother-in-law tongue), and brought a few pots of them inside. And within an hour I had about 15 tiny little frogs hopping around the family room. (Obviously they'd hitchhiked their way inside.) I tried to catch them all and let them loose outside, but I know I missed some because I found one hours later, dehydrated and dead on my hallway floor.

Forever the optimist, I put on my Dr. Frankenstein hat and scooped up the little guy and slipped him into a cup of water. I mean, I know it sounds crazy, but if he died of dehydration then maybe if I REhydrated him he'd come back to life. It worked with Sea Monkeys, after all.

Alas, that was not the result. R.I.P., little froggy.

Where are your children?
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Found these guys on Broadway near the honkeytonks in downtown Nashville. Not quite sure how to react.

Family Fun in New York City
Monday, November 8, 2010

As my facebook friends know, my wife and daughter bought me for my birthday a trip to New York to see Pee-Wee Herman's Playhouse on Broadway. I own the entire video set of the TV cartoon show that ran for five years. I think he's brilliant and childish, much like myself (wink), and he reminds us all to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I don't care that he was arrested for masturbating in an adult movie theatre. I mean, what else do you think guys are gonna be doing in those places, hmmm? At least he was pleasuring himself with himself, and not the hand of someone else. 'Nuf said on that.

First, the audience. It was mixed and largely older with a lot of gay couples. I was wondering if Miss Yvonne ("The Most Beautiful Woman in all of Cartoonland") was the new Liza Minnelli or Cher. And everyone there knew the world of Pee-Wee. My wife and daughter heard someone singing the Pee-Wee Herman cartoon song on the toilet in the bathroom.

Just like in the cartoon, Pee-Wee had a secret word of the day (it was "fun" this time), and every time someone on stage said "fun" the audience had to scream and yell -- and we did.

There was Globey the talking globe, and Terri the terradactyl. Chairy the chair sounded just like she did in the show. And Pee-Wee? he was perfect. I've got to say ... I was speechless when he came out on stage. I'd only seen him in his show and movies and there he was, just 20 feet away. I could see his wrinkles. I was in awe, and so was the audience. And we all yelled and exclaimed throughout the whole show. It felt like an African-American church service. Very participatory.

Because the show wasn't a Saturday morning cartoon it was more risque with some great junior-high-level sexual humor. At one point the lights went out (on purpose) and everyone on stage was looking for the flashlight. Conky, the talking robot says to someone, "That is NOT the flashlight. Please let it go." Also, on the cartoon show Pee-Wee always showed kids how to make a healthy snack for themselves without getting hurt in the kitchen. But on Broadway the snack was deep-fried onion rings, and Shamwow the shammy accidentally fell into it and met his doom.

We left happy because everything in cartoon land ends happy. Jomby the genie granted Pee-Wee his wish to fly. Miss Yvonne married Cowboy Curtis. And I left with a huge smile.

No wonder I hadn't seen Art for awhile...
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

From a building near the tracks, downtown Nashville

Who says Florida's not Southern?
Monday, November 1, 2010

Consider this true scenario from my Fort Myers neighborhood.

A woman's cat dies and she asks her friend if she can bury it in the friend's yard. Even more interesting: These two women are friends but not super-close friends.

The gracious friend says yes and has her hired man (who is black) dig a hole in the yard, which he lines with a blanket and thoughtfully surrounds with chairs for visiting mourners.

Meanwhile, the cat is FROZEN, awaiting the ceremony.

Our Southern author-friend Flannery O'Connor certainly couldn't dream up anything better.