Monday, April 29, 2013


Phil Plait, on SLATE, talking about how FOX gets climate change issues wrong: "This whole thing with Fox would be funny if it weren’t so damaging. A lot of people only watch Fox News, and while it’s easy to mock Fox for being so reality-deficient, so clearly wrong so often, the fact is for millions of people Fox is their sole news source."

I know.  And they are irritating to argue with. Even when you present them with multiple source to buttress your position, they simply dismiss them.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Although first night of coverage of NFL Draft on ESPN was passible, second night was simply horrible. Why do we need four commentators (and many more actually), several of whom are only mildly informative and almost none of them entertaining, to shepherd us through the experience, spending their time (mostly incorrectly) guessing which players the teams will select? I'd much rather get good information on players who were actually selected. Twice, after waiting patiently for my team to pick, they talked completely over the selection (even blocking the veteran chosen to announce the pick so that he never even appeared on screen, except for in the background), and I heard nothing about the rookie's skills or whether the pick would help my team. No. . .they had to go on and on about Matthieu (and another fellow), as if they were not going to let a morsel of info they had studied about him go to waste. Of course, they allowed NY picks to be shown, as well as other favorites. I was disappointed and can't imagine the lower rounds being better, unless they just dispense with  fluff and just follow the selections. Kiper was fixated on the length of players' arms, and basically parroted combine results the whole time. You could see him looking down while others were talking, deciding what he was going to say about each player. Dilfer was a waste of time, in my opinion, and Wingo should have kept better control of the group. Photo clips of  players were often poor, and occasionally even silly. Although many former players chosen to represent their old teams were good on the field, there wasn't much star power tonight.

They continued to kibitz over my teams' selections on the next two days. The Rams did well in their picks, but very little talk about them.

And the Gamecocks are finally coming off the board. Lattimore to 49ers, Devin Taylor to Lions, Ace to Jaguars. Swearinger went early to Texans. I hope a couple more get chances.

Seven total Gamecocks selected, and second Mr. Irrelevant in five years. Last one has had a good career, Succop of thre Chiefs. I think Justice Cunningham will do well, though seems there are already established TEs there.

My overall assessment? Although many complained about the lack of star power, I think a larger percentage of players in this draft will have productive careers than some of the star-powered drafts of the past. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


A new pastel painting by Chimo, as directed by his 6th Grade teacher, Ms. Fisher.

Monday, April 22, 2013


While visiting Dad and Sharon in Kodak, we took a side trip on Saturday to see the Titanic Museum outside of Gatlinburg, and it was very interesting indeed. Traffic was a bear though, and it must have taken nearly two hours to get from his house and down not much more than a couple of miles of 66. I can't imagine how much longer it would have taken to get all the way to the Aquarium, which we had also intended to visit. The museum was quite a show, and while acknowledging an element of touristy-trapness, I thought they had done a good job with their displays and exhibits, and they made what appears to be a solid effort at accuracy and  fairness, though some elements of the story were seemingly purposely overlooked. I especially liked the actual artifacts from the ship that were on display (as well as other period pieces and White Star selections). I also liked the dollhouse-scaled re-creation featured when you go into the first or second gallery. If I have any complaint, it is that there is a bit of repetition of information. The staff (all decked in replica outfits) was attentive and very pleasant, especially the two maids who were working the grand staircase while we were there (the upstairs maid from Carson Newman being especially attractive, too). The boys really liked their visit. They have you follow the experience of a passenger or crew person, and only one of the individuals we shadowed during our trip through the museum survived (Joey's).  Anyone with an interest in the disaster would enjoy this museum.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

BOSTON (haiku)

Note, that bravest runs
during Boston Marathon
were toward the hurt.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Today two giants in their fields passed yesterday and today. Extremely funny improv comedian and actor Jonathan Winters died. He almost always cracked me up, even when some of his jokes went right over my head. He inspired many younger comics, especially Robin Williams, and his characters were wonderful. And the world of dance lost a beautiful ballerina, the amazing Maria Tallchief of Oklahoma, probably the most famous Native American (Osage) dancer, who appeared with the New York City Ballet and was married to Balanchine.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective (III)

Morning arrives too early for the party cat I am. I could feel the martinis and wine still punching my brain cells. It took several cups of thick Cuban brew and a mix of sardine/veggie shake to get me started. I could still smell Kitty’s perfume as I padded around the kitchen, deciding if I should go to the office first, or just relax until my appointment. Sarah didn’t like me smoking cigars in the house, so popped a piece of gum in my mouth. Women, I thought. Always controlling my life.

I took a quick shower and flea dip, then took a while blow drying and combing my silky fur. Yeah, I said silky. I’ve got to keep the babes satisfied. Then I picked out a nice purple Pierre Cardin with a floppy hat, the brim decorated with a pheasant feather. Damn right I was pimpin’.

At ten I met up with Kitty, and she directed me to her old man’s joint. Not much to talk about, for a noted archeologist and scholar. She unlocked the door and I was immediately struck by old-man smell and ancient artifacts, as if the home was itself a tomb. Particles of dust swirled about in the slatted light that filtered in from the unwashed windows. Kitty clearly felt uncomfortable, as if embarrassed to acknowledge any relation to the man who ended his life here. Someone had straightened up the front parlor and kitchen. She led me back through a narrow hallway. “This is his office.”

A chalk outline graced the scuffed wooden floor, a throw rug scrunched up below the desk, covered with detritus and ephemera from a life of scholarly pursuit. Obviously he had fought hard for his life. Claw marks of different depths were scored on the floor planks, the desk edges, and mantels. Closer examination seemed to indicate the possibility that two perps were involved. “How did they get in?” I asked Kit.

“There was no sign of forced entry. All the windows and back door were locked.”

“Hmm. He must have known them. Did he ever mention any of the cats he had dealings with.”

“No.” But I had the distinct feeling that she was not telling me all I need to know. I looked at her, but she cast a glance to the back wall. Someone had completely destroyed the paneling, ripping the veneer and sheetrock in jagged patterns. A hidden alcove had been exposed, obviously the hiding place for the onxy statue. I reached over and pulled on the throw rug, and as it unfolded I heard a clatter as something slid to the floor. I leaned over and picked it up.

It was a key, one usually partnered with a safe-deposit box. Perhaps in his struggle the professor tossed it on the rug and then pushed it all under the desk, hoping the assailants might not notice. Or it fell out of a pocket during the melee, the sound of its fall muffled by the fabric. Perhaps the killers were more focused on getting the artifact that they forgot the key, or it simply wasn’t important to them. But it was a clue. Then I saw a small clump of hair attached to a triangle of cat flesh.

“What color fur was your father?”

“Light Persian grey.”

The good doctor had bitten or ripped a small portion of an ear in his losing battle. I picked it up with a pair of tweezers and sealed it in a small ziplock bag, part of a kit I always kept with me on investigations. How had the police missed it? I was beginning to wonder if they had investigated at all, if they were satisfied just to remove the body and turn a blind eye. I decided then to call my buddy on the force, Detective Tom Felis, a Maine Coon who sometimes slipped me info, while I returned the favor at other times. I decided not to mention this fact to Kitty.  

“Anything else seem out of order or missing?”

Kitty batted her lovely eyes and scanned the room. Her eyes came to rest on a stand behind the door, and she gave a little gasp. “His mahogany cane is gone. His bulldog cane. Ivory handle, the carved dog embellished with glowing sapphire eyes.”

The scene was providing me with wonderful clues. The game was afoot.

As we were leaving I looked at the pictures on the wall. Papa had been a busy boy. There were fifteen litters displayed, averaging six per photo. It was easy to pick out Kitty, though she was quite plump in her kitten days. And it looked to me she dyed her hair now. I wondered why that would be."
[Join us tomorrow as we continue The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective on this radio channel.]

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Bobbie, Paul, Beth, with me watching their backs.


In the piney lowcountry of Georgia, Easter of 2013

The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective (II)

Dinner at the Chateau Cheetah was memorable. Kitty Boo Boo, resplendent in velvet and diamonds, picked daintily at her goose pate, while I took on a huge prime rib, rare. We shared martinis and then a bottle of Hazlitt 1852. Her eyes shown as bright as her jewels in the flickering glow of table candles. Quiet renditions of Cat Stevens songs, covered by the blind piano player and his jazz trio, flittered about the room like hummingbirds.

After sharing post-dinner cordials, while I puffed on a giant Cuban cigar, I turned to Kitty and asked, “So, doll, tell me what you need. Why did you seek me out?” My mind imagined many delectable responses to my query, but instead she looked down and murmured, “I have to find it. I just have to!”


“The statue. The onyx Drakones Indikoi.”

I scoffed. “You mean the supposedly famous carving of Indian dragons? Everyone knows that that piece of art is a myth. Never existed. It was just a scam to get archeological funds from a gullible public.”

Fire flashed in her eyes, and her cute Persian nose crumbled in disgust. I thought for sure I was in for a cat fight. Her whiskers flickered like antennae on an overexcited roach. Her fur ruffled and her pearly white teeth broke the edge of her sultry mouth. But like a skilled seductress, she quickly gained control of her anger and the stared confrontationally at me.

“No. It exists. My papa stole it from the Baghdad Museum during the fall of Saddam and snuck it to the States. He had to have had help from government insiders, I am sure, someone in the CIA or the Army, but I don’t know. He never told me. But he said only a few cats knew of it, or where he had hidden it. But he told me.  And it cost him his life.” Water began to well in her eyes, and my feline heart ached. A perfect crystal tear formed and then fell to the starched white linen. “The found him horribly beaten and murdered. Those rats, I want them dead and his treasure returned. They tore out the wall behind which it was hidden. He fought hard not to give up the secret  location, but he failed.”

“Why me?”

“Because you are the only one I can trust. I don’t know who in the government or from overseas knew about it, but either it was an inside job or someone spilled the beans.  But it has to be an outsider.”

“This sounds like a job beyond my skills.”

“But Duffy,” she purred. “ I know you have a  lion heart and mad skills. Everyone says you are the best. I may not be able to pay you, but I will make it worth your while.” A bolt of electricity turned my muscles to rubber. How could I refuse a damsel in distress?

“I need to see the scene. Can we go there?”

“Of course. I can take you tomorrow.”

“Then tomorrow it is. I’ll pick you up at 10.”    

[Join us tomorrow as we continue The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective on this radio channel.]

Monday, April 8, 2013


Few people outside of those who have lived in Tampa seem to know of its vibrant, diverse culture and violent, often troubled past. A unique mix of Latin (Spanish, Cuban), Italian, Cracker, African American (with a sprinkling of other backgrounds thrown in) produced a special place regionally and historically. Racist, conservative whites shared the streets with radical, leftist cigar workers. A thriving port, nearby farms and groves (strawberries, guava, citrus, cattle), and industrial city (initially cigars) attracted as well thousands of tourists and travelers. And during the early twentieth century Tampa’s loose control of gambling, liquor, and prostitution garnered interest from organized crime, ranging from Mafia types, homegrown toughs, and  international interests. Corruption was rampant from the highest levels of government on down. With such an interesting and varied milieu, it is strange that so few novels have set their action in the city and county (Hillsborough).  From 1970 until 1989 I lived in this wonderful town (actually just outside of it), and was captured by its history and people. Not to mention Cuban sandwiches that I passionately love. In college I studied history, and my master’s covered the Depression era on the west coast of Florida (primarily focusing on Tampa, however). I love Ybor City. It is this background that almost guaranteed that I would read Ace Atkins’ White Shadow (2007), a historical thriller that closely follows the investigation into the murder of bolita (gambling) kingpin and local legend Charlie Wall in 1955. Almost every page brought to mind a sight, sound, or taste to my memory, and even included individuals I had met or knew about. Atkins obviously did a lot of research to get the background right, and even when he takes liberties with the actual story (for literary purposes) he reveals a complicated time and place as accurately as any I have read. The story is told through the eyes of a young newspaperman, as well as in third person following the detective who is determined to catch the culprit(s). Into the mix is thrown a young radical Cuban girl, who after seeking revenge for the murder of her father, gets mixed up in gangster activities and lands among the colorful community carved out by retired carnival workers (many of them sideshow performers) in the southern boundary of the county. Some of the action also takes place in Havana. Real-life larger than life characters from Santo Trafficante, Fidel Castro, to lesser-known cops, bartenders, reporters and prostitutes fill the pages. Although locals will enjoy this book, I also think snowbirds and other northerners will like it as well. I think it is time to go back home for a visit.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Wishing much good luck and happiness to my sister Beth and her new husband Brad.


A picture from Easter gathering at Bobbie's & Beth's compound in southern Georgia (for the latter's wedding as well). Herewith the senior Tidd boys: Me, Dad, and Paul. Luckily the shading has me essentially hidden, so no one will be hurt during viewing. We went on a golfing (well, ok, more viewing and drinking than golfing) excursion to local course.