“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

Mr. EarthSaver says: Leave the gift bags at home, please.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Common scenario in adult life:

You say to the dinner-party hostess,"What can I bring?"
And they say, "Only yourselves and a smile." Or something just as stupid.
So you pull a bottle of wine out of the cabinet...one that someone brought to your dinner party, and you put it in one of these:

This one is really nice. It's made of a high-cotton-count paper with sparklies on the peacock feathers. Think of how many of these are given out in the average evening throughout America. They add nothing to the sentiments behind the gift. They clutter one's house. They suck up resources. Most of them are ugly (although this one's kinda pretty).

I'm guessing the host would rather you put the 4$-10$ you spent on the bag toward the wine; you could buy a better bottle of vino. And then, maybe, they would actually drink and enjoy the wine instead of re-gifting it.

Postcard from Blue Ridge, Georgia
Thursday, May 23, 2013

We spotted this in the outdoor section of an antique emporium:

I should have had my wife pose with it to show the size -- the head is two feet across! The entire bust is about five feet tall.

We all scrutinized for the longest time, pretending we knew who it was: Wordsworth? ... Whitman? ... A Norwegian King?

"It's my husband," explained the owner of the store. She said that they'd commissioned a piece to use for a settee of sorts for their favorite cowboy hat ... but the size of that cranium would obviously make a ten-gallon hat appear a more appropriate fit for an American Girl doll.

 I really wanted to buy it. Wife said no, not even for Father's Day.

Please: Help me celebrate Best of the Best
Friday, May 17, 2013

A good friend of mine long ago called me a "self-appointed-critic-at-large." Supposedly, I am critical. I like to say I simply have a Passion for Excellence.

I just had a good experience with my bank, SunTrust, and it got me thinking of how few service providers or retailers truly excel at what they do. Here's my partial list of The Best. Please add to it so you can contribute to the overall quality of my life.

1. SunTrust. We've been with them for three states, and I've never been in a branch that was less than perfectly run. Also, I like the free candies at the counter, and they seem to hire very attractive women.

2. Chick-fil-A. So maybe you don't like their politics, but most of them have a little-old-lady hostess who goes around the restaurant, asking if there's anything you need. And there's always fresh flowers on the table. And if you wait more than 5 minutes for your food you generally get a coupon for a free sandwich. And they have the best side salad in Fast Food Land, which includes broccoli! And they have mouthwash in the bathrooms. And, and, and, and, and...........

3. Publix: There are markets with better groceries but no one trains their people like Publix. Their bakeries are the best, their fried chicken is Southern-good, they have the best deli sandwiches in town. You can actually find something in the store that you want on your sandwich and take it to the deli and they'll use it without charging you extra. People love working there (I contrast this to Kroger, where everyone mopes and slurs their sentences and says "I dunno...but I'm fixin' to get off work in fifteen minutes and I can't wait.")

Have I missed any?

Thumbs up to Barbara Mandrell's Fontanel Mansion Tour
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Usually I pick my own topics for my AdVentures column in Nashville Lifestyles magazine, but now and then my editors nudge me to go outside my interest zone. I would never have visited this place ... and I'm so glad I did:

“This is the largest log home in the world, “ says Amy, our tour guide at Fontanel Mansion, Barbara Mandrell’s former residence. “And if anyone has to use the bathroom, we’ve got 13 of ‘em in this house so just find one and use it if you need to.”

The 12 in our group then walk into the 2,500-square-foot great room with cathedral ceiling. On the walls hang famous guitars from Barbara’s friends: The Eagles, Miranda Lambert, and the famous red-and-blue one played by Buck Owens on Hee Haw. Amy encourages us to pull any of them down and pose with them -- or, if we’re able, play them. “Take pictures if you want,” she says. “Y’all can take video, too.”

In Barbara’s bedroom I inquire about an open sleeve of saltine crackers on the bedstand. Amy reminds me of Barbara’s song You Can Eat Crackers in My Bed. ”Why don’t you lie down on Barbara’s bed and pretend to eat a cracker and I’ll take your picture?” Amy suggests -- and I do.

The tour of Fontanel, the 27,000-square-foot home to the iconic star and her family for 14 years -- Barbara relocated to smaller digs after her kids were grown and gone -- exemplifies all that is Nashville: friendly and informal, with no fuss or pretense. And, if Amy is your guide, you’ll even get some music thrown in; the singer-songwriter belted out for us a few bars of a song she’d written about butterflies.

Tired? Rest a spell on any piece of furniture you desire. “Jaime says ‘it’s all just stuff,’” says Amy, quoting her boss and one of the three Mandrell children. (The home is now owned by Dale Morris and Marc Oswald, well-known managers in the music business.)

The other tour highlight is the gossip Amy dishes:

… Like the time Kenny Chesney got drunk and jumped off a balcony overlooking the pool, only he missed and broke his leg. “He left his tour jacket here -- look,” Amy says. “Does anyone want to try it on?”

… and there was the time that Kid Rock and Hank Williams, Junior got drunk with an AK-47, rendering the walls of the indoor shooting range into swiss cheese.

… and those mirrors on the ceiling of the canopy bed where Barbara and her husband, Ken Dudney slept? Amy says they both liked to read in bed and they installed the mirrors so they could look up and see each other when talking, rather than having to turn their heads. “That’s their story, and they’re stickin’ with it,” she says.

The tour over, we all pile into the bus to head back down the mountain. A green tennis ball, pierced with a hole, has been stuck onto a part of the van door’s hinge that sticks out. “That’s our redneck bumper,” says the driver. “Some lady dinged her head on that one time and passed right out.”

Perfect lyrics for a Mandrell song, I say to myself.

Questions of the Universe: #445T3
Thursday, May 2, 2013

Two men, identically matched in strength, are fighting to the death. The aggressor fights out of anger, the other fights out of fear.  Which guy will win?

Which is the stronger emotion?

Does survival instinct trump raw rage?

Curious minds want to know.