“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

The royal wedding: color me "confused."
Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm confused about Americans' fascination with the royal family of England. Adoration of such a thing seems anathema to our country's collective personality:

1. There was this thing called an American Revolution ... unfair taxation and all that. Boston Tea Party? Redcoats kicking our ass on our own territory.

2. Americans' entire country is based on the idea of egalitarianism. Though it's really not true, we at least like to think that we're all equal, that every man and woman has the same potential for power and greatness. The entire idea of a monarchy, and what it stands for, is in direct opposition to that.

3. Americans, for the most part, have a distrust of things European. We tend to roll our eyes at them, just as they roll their eyes at us.

4. Americans believe in hard work, not in things being handed to them on a silver platter.

So why this fascination with the royal family? Is it because we're a (lovingly) vulgar, rag-tag, mutt-like mix of humanity ... and the royal family helps to elevate us in some way?

Do this young nation crave a deeper sense of history and tradition?

Does the royal family take us back to our childhood, and all those books about princes and princesses?

It's surely not that they're attractive. I mean, the girls (Diana and Kate) these boys are bringing into the family are cute, but the royal family itself is looking a little inbred these days, dontcha think? I mean, they all look like various farmyard animals: horses, etc.

I just don't get it. Enlighten me, please. What is the allure behind the royal family?

"Yes, Virginia, there is an Easter Bunny."
Monday, April 25, 2011

As I've mentioned in the past, I have a fascination with animal costumes and secretly wish to be a mascot for some sports team. Hence, I enjoy having my picture taken with large furry characters.

These shots were taken at the Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville, where my wife, daughter and I had a great Easter brunch.

Honestly, I am not goosing him or doing anything inappropriate. What on earth is he covering his eyes for? Isn't this the weirdest photo?

Now a not-so-strange one:

Aren't my girls beautiful? I hope y'all had a great holiday weekend with family or friends.

My Roller Derby Report
Sunday, April 24, 2011

When I was a boy growing up on the High Plains of Colorado, entertainment options for us were few and far between. For starters, we had one TV channel, which signed off with the Star Spangled Banner every night at midnight.

Luckily, one show in that channel's programming schedule was roller derby. My brother and I wouldn't miss it. To this day I have no idea which city the girls played in, but I do know that there was plenty of action on that rink: women pushing and shoving, some of them flying over the rail that tried to contain the action. Boys always love watching girls fight, and this was even better: these were grown-up women fighting.

Well, evidently, that version of roller derby was a little like professional wrestling: the violence and drama were choreographed and acted and ramped up for a television audience. I know this because I finally got the chance to see a real roller derby match last night.

The sport has made a comeback in recent years, and a facebook friend of mine (thanks, Teresa) who plays on a Colorado team talked me into going. I gathered up my wife, friends and daughter who was visiting from college for Easter weekend, and we walked over to the Nashville Municipal Auditorium to watch Music City take on Kansas City.

Some observations:

1. Roller Derby tickets cost $8! It's good, cheap family entertainment.

2. Key word is family: These women weren't violent in the least. Not one girl fight. Honestly, I was a little disappointed. I wanted some hair-pulling or body slams or something.

3. Roller Derby concessions serves the biggest beers I've ever seen. 'Can't remember the official ounce-count, but one friend noted that one can of Bud was equal to 2.5 regular-size cans.

4. Know the rules of the game. If you don't understand them, it merely looks like a bunch of girls skating around in a circle. The woman with the star on her helmet is the jammer, and it's this jammer's job to out-lap the members of the opposite team. Each time she does this she makes a point for her team. Meanwhile, her other four team members try to clear the way for her while the opposing team, of course, tries to stop her. What this means is that offensive and defensive plays are going on at the same time. This sport requires ACTIVE watching. Lots going on.

5. The whole thing is wonderfully low-budget and has a homespun feel to it. The clock and scoring was shown via laptop on a projector screen. The cheerleaders: a rag-tag collection of women and men with tattoos, piercings and hair dyed all sorts of colors. They used meager pom-pons that looked like ones bought for a child at a football game.

6. Each woman has her nickname on the back of her jersey. There was Killah B. Killed and (appropriate for Nashville) Meanie Pearl. If there was an MVP of last night's action it was a black woman from Kansas named Black Ice. (we managed to get her autograph.)

7. In so many sports we are kept far away from the athletes, but not in roller derby. You have the option of sitting in what's called Suicide Seating, which is floor-seating around the edge of the track, inches from the action. (And I mean ON the floor, no chairs.)

8. Most impressive was the ending. (Incidentally, Nashville got their clocks cleaned). The women of opposing teams greeted each other with smiles and hand slaps and congratulations, and then they rolled around the rink, hands out, slapping high-fives to everyone in the Suicide Seating section.

So ... Nashville ... looking for someone to play a mascot for y'all? I'm available and interested.

Hello? Acme Sign Company?
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Okay, folks, this is not photoshopped. My wife and I saw this with our own eyes in downtown Nashville, which has seen some nasty winds of late. Somebody better alert the folks at Suntrust.

T-shirt of the Month
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Check out this awesome T-shirt spotted on a pregnant woman at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest last weekend.(Yes, I DID ask her permission before shooting the photo).

I wonder what the little guy's reading. Fiction? Non-fiction? An Ad Hudler book?

My Secret for Ear Wax Problems
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I have a recurring dream-borderline-nightmare that involves me pulling from my ears chunks of wax the size of peanuts. Gross, I know, but ear wax has been a persistent problem of mine. Ear infections, too.

Finally, I went to an ear-nose-throat doc. He cleaned out my ears and said I should wear ear plugs when I swim. I told him I don't swim. Confounded, he explained that people with constantly wet ear canals produce large amounts of ear wax.

"Could it be sweat?" I asked. "I sweat a lot."

He started writing out a prescription to me for ear drops, which I would have to use for the rest of my life.

"A prescription for the rest of my life?" I said. "I'm only 41."

He looked me over. I was wearing ratty blue jeans and boots and a T-shirt tucked in.

"Tell you what," he said. "I know that can get expensive, so here's what you do. Take one of those plastic bottles that you put mustard or ketchup in, and fill it with half rubbing alcohol and half white vinegar. Every time you shower or go swimming, rinse out your ears. This will help dry out the canals."

(I silently thanked my momma, who always had us dress poor when we went to visit a specialist in Denver so that they would feel sorry for us and bill accordingly.)

Guess what? That was five years ago. I haven't had an earwax problem since. Not once. No more infections. No more crinkly sound of dry wax in my ear. No more need for ear candles or syringes.

Incidentally, I finally discovered why my ears were always wet. Though I'd always had ear-wax problems it got worse about the time I turned 40. I scrutinized the variables that had changed in my life ... and thought and thought and thought ... and then, EUREKA! I realized the problem intensified after I started shaving my head: water was running, unimpeded, right down the scalp and into my ears.

So tell your friends who have earwax problems: rinse with a 50-50 solution of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar.

Your advice will be the finest gift you ever give them.

My brief life as a sandwich
Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ever since I was a child I've always dreamed of being a mascot. I always watched the slightly-larger-than-life, stuffed-animal-looking character strut and dance about the sidelines or gym, entertaining the crowds -- and wished it was me.

You always find similar costumed characters at reading festivals: Cat in the Hat, Snoopy, etc. At the Southern Kentucky Book Fest this week (which, incidentally, has turned into one of the best run reading festivals in the South) I was in the author's lounge when I saw a giant, plush costume of a Crustable (those funky PBJ sandwich things from Smuckers). The girl who was wearing the costume was taking a break and had set it down against the wall.

I seized my chance ...

"Can I? ..."

I couldn't fit it over my shoulders; it's supposed to cover the entire torso ... but we did manage to set my hat on top!

Retail Find of the Month: #288Q1
Friday, April 15, 2011

Recently stopped by a place called Gully's Retail Store Fixtures, on the other side of the tracks in Fort Myers. Evidently, when shops go belly up the folks from Gully's swoop in like vultures and buy all the stuff one needs to set up a store: shelving, pricing tags, light fixtures and ...

lots and lots of dummies. Obviously, the people who work at Gully's have a sense of humor. Note these two prostitute dummies.....pretty hot, dontcha think? And what about the little boy with his name tag attached to his nipples. Ouch.

Then there was the gigolo section. As you can see, Tom will cost you just $205. He's very brooding, isn't he? And Amos on the far right: he's got some rapper at-ti-tude.

Looking for something a little more creepy? Here's "D. Baby Rose," who appears to be Asian. I'm very intrigued by the thing on her head that looks like the end of a banana.

Conspiracy Theory #3866T5
Wednesday, April 13, 2011

...that the Chinese are trying to take over America, and NOT in the way you think. They're doing it through their buffet restaurants, which are everywhere now, from tiny towns to urban neighborhoods. Yep, if you have a Bonanza steakhouse or Denny's that went out of business, chances are very good it's now an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet restaurant with a name like China Palace Buffet.

These things rarely cost more than $7 per person. How can they do it and make money? They can't. You see, the Chinese government is underwriting them so they can succeed in their plot to make us the most obese culture on the planet. And then when we're all rolling around in duck sauce, all fat and happy, they storm in and take us over.

Hey...we've got to blame someone for our obesity problem, right? We can't be responsible for our own actions; that's so 1950s.

Would someone please alert Glen Beck?

Flabby arms
Monday, April 11, 2011

Question: When was the last time you walked into a big-box store or supermarket and the door didn't open up for you? Was this your reaction: "What the hell? Is this thing broken?"
You wave your hand in front of what you think is a sensor, and the door just sits there, closed.
And then you realize, with incredulity: "This is NOT AN AUTOMATIC DOOR?!?!! What the heck?!"

Next stop: Cars. When was the last time you manually rolled up a window?

Next stop: Electric kitchen equipment.

Next stop: Riding mowers

I asked my personal-trainer friend why so many people have trouble with flabby triceps. (The triceps are those under-side muscles in the upper arms that, if unused, start hanging there like a floppy hammock.)

Simple, he explained. We no longer have to manually push things.

Try this: Push down on the table or against the wall. See? It tenses those arms in the trouble spots. We have flabby arms because technology has made pushing unnecessary in everyday life.

Push onward, people.

A sad scene in ATL
Friday, April 8, 2011

I was writing on my laptop at the bar in the B concourse Delta Crown Room, Atlanta airport. An older man, maybe about 75, sat a few barstools away from me.

Over the course of less than 20 minutes, I watched him drink three bloody marys.

It was 8:15 in the morning.

He was shaking. His face was red and inflamed. He was alone.

The writer in me wondered what it was that made him drink that much so early in the day.
The drinker in me wondered what it was that made him drink that much so early in the day.

I love my cocktails. So far I've been able to keep myself from drinking them before 4 p.m.
But I looked at him and saw a potential Me. It scared me. Rattled me, even.

Thank you, sir. I hope you're okay.

A Real Survivor.
Monday, April 4, 2011

Meet Spike.

When you live in a downtown highrise you find yourself craving things green because you're so removed from nature. I bought this plant about a year ago and told Carol to make sure she watered him whenever I was gone.

One time, I was absent for nearly an entire month, hosting friends in our Florida house and attending author events in different places. When I got home, there was Spike, all healthy and green and looking great.

"Great job of taking care of Spike," I said. "He looks great!"

"I didn't," she said.

"Didn't what?"

"Didn't water him."

"Not even once?"


"For a month?"

I reached into the pot and felt the soil, hard and crusty. Like something freeze-dried.

"Wow,"I said. "This guy's amazing."

Truly, there was nary a dried edge of leaf on Spike. He looked like an expensive, artificial plant. Perhaps I had his gender wrong. He's obviously as resilient as a Southern woman.

Spikeena? Ideas for names, anyone?

And the Prophet of the Week award goes to ...
Saturday, April 2, 2011

My friend and I were driving to lunch in Fort Myers the other day and came across this fellow, preaching at the corner of U.S. 41 and McGregor Boulevard. He was a black man whom I assume to be homeless, citing scripture through a ventriloquist's dummy.

The armchair psychiatrist in me has had a hey-day with this one: First of all, the idea of citing scripture through a dummy. Second of all, a black man hiding behind a white man to cite scripture through a dummy. Irony alert! Irony alert!

I googled the Penny Carson website listed on his placard and ... voila! ... discovered that we'd just seen a celebrity. To watch him on a youtube video, click here