It’s really almost Christmas!

I realized, to my horror, that  I have not posted here since April, so I thought I would come back and tell you how things are going.

I am in the process of buying a home and all that goes with it, so it’s taking a lot of time, that’s partially why I haven’t been writing here.  It’s also because, much to my astonishment, I am HAPPY, and happy is nice, but it doesn’t always draw as much readership as angst.  Susan and I are doing splendidly, and she hasn’t strangled me yet, so that is a great thing.

We went to see SANTALAND DIARIES last night in the MEMPHIAN ROOM at Circuit Playhouse, and it is raucous and hilarious and not for someone with a Currier and Ives view of Christmas.  David Foster is freaking HILARIOUS as Crumpet the Elf, whom David Sedaris played in his younger days working at Macy’s in NYC.

For the first time in a long time, I don’t feel pressured at Christmas, I am almost ENJOYING it, which I really haven’t much since I was a child.  I feel content and happy and grateful that I have Susan and my family and friends.  I know, that’s kind of obnoxious and boring, but that’s where I am these days.

And I am happy, and I wish that happiness for all of you this holiday, or whatever holiday you celebrate, because Christmas ain’t just for Christians any more!

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Since when did Hernando become the center of the artisan bread universe??

Hello, my name is Steve, and I am addicted to artisan breads.  This was brought home to me a while ago when I went to opening day at the Botanic Garden’s Farmers Market.

I was walking through when I came to the booth of Boulangerie Olivier, who produced the German Rye shown on the right side.  I was familiar with their goods, having encountered them at the Cooper-Young Community Farmer’s Market on the weekend.  (Yes, I am addicted to Farmer’s Markets, too.)  After tasting several, I picked the Rye, which is usually gone by the time I drag myself down there on Saturdays.

I kept walking after that purchase and walked up on Lady Bugg Bakery’s booth: I remembered them as being in Midtown.  I tasted several breads, but the Rosemary bread nearly brought me to my knees.  I asked where they were located and was informed that they had left Midtown for 205 East Commerce Street in Hernando.

Hernando, Mississippi, people.  Population around 13,000.  TWO bakeries that produce bread like this?  Can Mayor Wharton not send tanks down Highway 51???

Any way, check these places out, especially if you love bread like I do.  It will definitely be worth your while.

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We are losing a great Mid-Southerner, a great musician and singer, a great PERSON

It appears that Levon Helm’s long battle with cancer nearing an end, and it is not ending as any of us wished.  His wife and daughter announced on his website that the 71-year-old native of Marvell, AR was “in the final stages of his battle with cancer”.

Helm, known as the lead singer and drummer for the Band, will also be remembered for his role as Loretta Lynn’s father, Ted Webb, in the epic COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER. After beating throat cancer several years ago, he got himself by hosting what he called Midnight Rambles at his farm in Woodstock, NY, that drew great musicians from everywhere to play long into the night.

For me, this will always be my favorite remembrance; go in peace and love and remember Levon and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

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A legend knows when to leave…

Hi guys, I thought I would come back here to blog about baseball for a minute, I have been in bliss with Susan, so I haven’t been writing.

However, with today’s news that Chipper Jones is retiring at the end of the 2012 season to wait five years before his first-ballot induction to Cooperstown, I wanted to write.  He is the ultimate Atlanta Brave (no disrespect to Henry Aaron, whose greatest years were in Milwaukee) and the franchise player for the great years there from 1995-2005 (his Rookie of the Year season was 1995).

Chipper is one of the greatest third-basemen of all time, up there with Mike Schmidt and Brooks Robinson, and the Met-killer of Met killers.  How appropriate, then, is it that his last regular-season home games at Turner Field will be against those Mets September 28-30?

It could be argued that his presence is what put the Braves over the top after their World Series losses of 1991 and 1992 and their NLCS loss to the Phils in 1993.  He was top-notch first as a shortstop then as a third-baseman, solidifying the Braves’ batting order upon his arrival.

He will be missed; let’s enjoy his final year in a Braves’ uniform, and hope it’s a great one.

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Just as I thought, my body is fighting me

I have been obese for the better part of my life, and despite serious attempts to lose weight, it always came back.

Thanks to this NY Times article (hat tip to Aunt B), I understand a little better now, although it doesn’t make me feel any better. Read the article and see why.

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Tom Jones with CSNY????? Yes, it is!

Why? Why not? This has to be something you never expected!

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BREATHE, Cardinal Fans.

As Hyman Roth would say, “This is the business that we have chosen”.  After weighing far more factors than you could imagine, Albert Pujols turned down A) a lesser contract offer from the Cardinals and B) a HIGHER contract offer from the Miami Marlins to C) sign with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Yes, I know his jerseys are either being burned or given away in St. Louis right now, and I understand that.  You feel betrayed, since he is arguably the greatest all-time Cardinal not named Musial.

Look, this should NOT be a surprise to you, Cardinal fans, if you have any sense of history.  The Cardinal organization has had a reputation SINCE THE 1920s as being cheapskates when paying their players.  Branch Rickey underpaid ALL of his stars, including Musial, because he COULD, since the Reserve Clause had yet to be declared null and void by the courts.

Hell, Bill Veeck has noted that when Rickey returned to the St. Louis front office in the early 1960s, he tried to trade Musial until Gussie Busch stopped it to prevent riots in the streets.  This, of course, was the same beer baron who let Hall of Famer Steve Carlton be traded to Philadelphia when he asked for a raise.  None of this should be a surprise to any of you.

I suspect that Pujols knew in the spring, when he cut off negotiations, that he was done in St. Louis after 2011.  I presume he thought that, since he had given Cardinal fans 10 years of Hall of Fame level numbers, and had led them to two pennants and one World Series title (not counting the one they were about to win), he expected a higher contract offer than he got.

It was about respect, with money being a major part of that.  I suspect he never intended to go to Miami, as he looked at their organization and saw that it was unstable and unsustainable.  The Angels, on the other hand, snuck up on everyone, including me.

Arte Moreno, the first Latino owner in MLB, knew that with the Dodgers facing bankruptcy and a new owner, he could take over the LA market with these signings.  Plus, Orange County (where Anaheim is located) has a growing Latino population and trends conservative (I have been told Albert is a fundamentalist Christian).

While everyone looked at the Cubs and Marlins, Arte Moreno stunned everyone, and then signed Rangers lefty ace CJ Wilson on top of that.  The Cardinals found out, to their horror, that comfort only goes so far.

Now then, Cardinals fans, I am sure you are worried with Albert gone, the Cubs hiring Theo Epstein, and your punching bags, AKA the Houston Astros, being sent to the AL West, you have visions of finishing 4th or 5th in the NL Central.

Not so fast, my friends.  One, you have a good guy in Mike Matheny to replace Tony LaRussa, and Dave Duncan and Mark McGwire are staying.  Next, the Cardinals are NOT tied down with a godawful contract that would stop them from making needed moves 5-6 down the road.  John Mozeliak knows what he is doing, people, and as much as I would love to dance on the Cardinals’ grave, it ain’t happening.

All they need to do is take the money they WOULD have given Pujols and re-invest in their farm system, which has grown lackluster over the last few years.  Once it was the envy of MLB; now, not so much.

St. Louis is a place where ballplayers want to play because they are treated like gods and left alone, for the most part.  You won’t lack for talent if the organization does what I think they will do.  Also, you won’t see Pujols for years, even with the switch to full-time interleague coming up; it is the luck of the draw.

Hopefully, you will have forgiven him for what he did, because it was his RIGHT to do what he did.  He gave you and the Cardinals ELEVEN YEARS at a Hall of Fame Level, with three pennants and two World Series titles to show for it, along with three MVPs, and all of it at bargain-basement prices, given the current market.

You need to work through your grief, and it will take time.  Of course, since the Cubs will finally win a World Series during that time, it could get rough (I keed!).  But remember the times you had with Albert, and know that you can win without him.

It just may take a year or two.

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