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Is Chris Miller a victim of spousal abuse?

According to our good friend Richard Clark — who has started his duties as the consolidated desk chief in Jacksonville for Freedom ENC — another good friend had a bad start to the week. Chris Miller, the award-winning sports writer for the Jacksonville Daily News, had to take a day off after he — allegedly — had an iron pot “fall” on his face.

Um, yeah.

Richard said, “He told us that he was trying to get something out of a cabinet and an iron pot fell on his face.”

Again — um, yeah.

Richard didn’t have a camera to get a picture, but I took the liberty of making an artist’s rendering of Miller’s face:

080608-miller.jpg

As some of you know, Miller recently celebrated his first year of his wedding anniversary — maybe he didn’t get her the proper present? Maybe he didn’t walk the dog?

Or maybe she was just in a bad mood?

My direct message to Miller: Dude, you don’t have to take this. Please visit this site, where their message is: Battered men, the hidden side of domestic violence.

It’s chick flick time

For our female bloggees — and yes, there are quite a few — we have a new blogger in our Free Press family of bloggers. Recent ECU grad Sarah Campbell has a “single girls’ ” blog about being, well, single and a girl. Sarah is a very funny, very intelligent young lady who fancies herself our area’s Carrie Bradshaw.

Yes, I’m a little ashamed I know who Carrie Bradshaw is. Don’t judge me.

Our Web master is a very intelligent — and patient — woman named Shana Norris. She’s also a published author who has a Web site (the aptly named shananorris.com) that talks about woman-stuff.

Also, an update on Vanessa Clarke’s blog: Yes, she got married (some people do that, you know, present company exempted!), and her new name is Vanessa Shortley. Her new-look blog is no longer about getting married but is about being a newlywed.

Vanessa is also an extremely talented writer and you need to give her blog a look, especially is you’re a chick woman.

You can access Sarah and Vanessa’s blogs all the time by hitting my blogroll to your right.

Is Jon Dawson really a metrosexual?

The Free Press’ resident cool dude, Jon Dawson, has an excellent blog where he talks mostly about music, but it’s also a place where he delves into pretty much anything.

One of today’s entries is about he and one of his buddies going, well, clothes shopping. Check it out.

My take: Wow. For us red-blooded, meat-eating American males, is there anything worse than someone thinking that we might, well, not play for the home team?

To steal a line from Dawson that he stole from Jerry Seinfeld, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

But it still can be uncomfortable. Read Dawson’s blog on it.

While we’re in that vein — I’m shocked that he doesn’t get more page views than he does. In my opinion, Dawson has the best blog at the Free Press — heck, maybe even Freedom ENC. Check it out.

Monte Dutton column: “For God’s sake, don’t encourage them”

For whatever reason, this news-side column was held a day by our sister paper (The Gaston Gazette) because it didn’t fit some sort of stereotype. Whatever. He’s not real happy about it.

Want to read more about the column? Visit Monte’s MySpace here, where you can see his original column (printed in full below with Monte’s permission) and his thoughts.

My take: Unless it was a straight space concern (and I can’t imagine The Gazette having that kind of problem), I don’t know why this column couldn’t run. They’re afraid they’re going to upset some rednecks? Who knows.

Here you go:

Towns that are the same in population have somehow grown twice as big in size. Have you noticed this?

            When I was a boy, the family farm was in the country. Now it borders the city limits and an apartment complex that is, basically, the bane of my existence. The town still has about 10,000 people living in it, just as it did 40 years ago.

Because of that apartment complex, I had to install an alarm system in my house. Now I’ve got an alarm system but not a doorbell. Someone smashed it, and I haven’t yet gotten around to replacing it. It hasn’t been but, oh, five years.

One of these years I’ll remember it. The problem, obviously, is that I never have to ring my doorbell.

Strange items of trash – there’s really no need to go into detail – have been thrown over the fence into my road. .Kids are always spilling over, sometimes leaving bicycles parked on the edge. I’ve found the best policy is just to walk out the front door, stand there and look as mean as possible. Most times they scatter without a word. If I actually go up and lecture or yell, all that does is get broken glass or nails scattered in the gravel.

            The summer brings a stream of people asking if they can fish in my pond. Some of them look as if one might not want them knowing too much about the property. Again, it’s a delicate problem. A firm “no” works better than an angry one.

            I once read a novel by Wallace Stegner (one of America‘s more overlooked literary figures) about a retired man and his wife who gradually watched their property being overrun by what evolved into a hippie commune. A guy from the apartment complex reminded me of the antagonist in that book.

            Let’s just call him Ricky. He’s allegedly disabled. For a time, he befriended two of my nephews. They lobbied for me to let him set up some lounge chairs, build an occasional campfire and hold court in a little grassy area just off the apartment’s property and just on mine. See, Ricky had already been banned from holding such convivial gatherings on the apartment’s property. I never approved of this; I just took it under advisement. Next thing I noticed, it was a done deal.

            Ricky has more rusted vehicles than some junkyards. There isn’t room for them in his allotted space at the apartment complex. He asked me to let him park a motor home behind the barn. Apparently, the presence of that motor home caused my sister to have an argument with her then-husband, who, as best I can tell, thought that my sister might be having an affair and that the motor home was some sort of sultry love nest.

            Apparently my sister’s husband had neither seen the motor home nor met Ricky. Or, more likely, he was just nuts. There’s a lot of that going around.

            Ricky was one of those guys who, if granted an inch, would invariably take a mile. The final straw came when I returned home from a NASCAR track only to find a Confederate flag flying on my property. I was furious. It was sort of the ultimate “what will the neighbors think?” moment.

            I went over to Ricky’s apartment. If I had plucked that flag out of the ground, I would’ve looked like I was in Pickett’s Charge.

            “What in the wide, wide world of sports made you think you could hoist a Confederate flag on my property?” I asked, not doing very well with my Jim McKay impression. It was more like a Jim McMahon impression. Or an Ed McMahon imitation. The pipes boomed.

            “I didn’t think you’d have no problem with it,” said Ricky, calmly.

            I told him Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn’t have had a bigger problem with that flag than I did. I added that I never again wanted to see him on my property. I called the police and told them I never again wanted to see him on my property. The police said “not so fast.” I had to draft a letter, get it notarized, hand-deliver one copy to Ricky, send another by certified mail and take copies to both the police and sheriff’s departments.

            When I confronted Ricky again, he read the really, really, really official letter and said, “All right, then. Sorry we couldn’t make things work. No hard feelings, OK?”

            I just turned around and left. So far he hasn’t burned my house down. 

Robin Rogers’ new CD

As the tag says — this clearly has nothing to do with sports. But on the old blog a couple of years ago, I introduced you to Robin Rogers, a talented blues singer out of Gaston County. She has now signed with Blind Pig Records and her first CD with the label (and third overall) is now out on the streets.

You can order your copy here.

I met Robin and her husband (and lead guitarist) Tony back in the late 1990s and early 2000s when I hosted a blues music radio show in Gastonia. I had the honor of helping introduce her music to the Gastonia/Charlotte airwaves on my show. She has a tremendous voice and energy and has already won several nationwide contests.

Her music is not Top 40 and it’s not part of the mainstream, but it’s awesome. Give it a listen at her Web site (www.robinrogers.com) or at these YouTube.com sites:

Ain’t No Use

Steady

Treat Me Right

RIP, George Carlin

Comedian George Carlin passed away last night of heart complications. From his awesome stand-up act to his pseudo-political beliefs (including free speech), Carlin was one of the comedy greats — along with Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Jerry Seinfeld and Steven Wright.

Here is a YouTube clip dedicated to his memory; ironically a bit on death. Also, it’s DEFINITELY NSFW, so watch at your own risk.

Here’s another YouTube clip featuring Carlin talking about football and baseball. Hilarious! “You make an error … whoops!”

Jon Dawson of The Free Press has a very nice post about Carlin on his blog; check it out here.

RIP, Mr. Carlin.

Please pray for our friend, Keith Spence — with Tuesday update

It is with a heavy heart that I report to you that Keith Spence’s mother, Mrs. Lucille Hamm Spence Cooke Pittman, passed away on Saturday. She was buried this morning in Stantonsburg.

Keith and his mom were very, very close. Please join me in praying for Keith and his family during this very, very difficult time in their lives.

Tuesday, June 10 update: I talked to Keith and he was extremely upbeat for everything he’s been through the past few weeks. 

Some of you asked me about visitation and Keith said it was her wish not to have that or a public service. They honored her wishes.

He wanted me to make a point of thanking everyone here on the blog for their prayers and well-wishes.

Notes and nuggets

Some things bouncing around in my noggin while I sit around hoping LCC’s game is played tonight…

  • Be sure to come back here at 8:30 p.m. your time, when I’ll be posting updates from the NJCAA D-2 World Series game between No. 1 LCC and No. 2 LSU-Eunice. It should be a hell of a game.
  • I said it in an earlier post, but the weather here is crazy. I was here in 2004 when LCC made it to the Series and it was the same deal — tornado warnings EVERY DAY, raining all the time, then sunny. I like Memphis, but I don’t think I could live here.
  • Went to the Nashville Sounds-Memphis Redbirds game yesterday at Autozone Park in downtown Memphis. It’s a gorgeous park that is relatively new. It’s built sort of like the new Durham Bulls park, if you’ve been there. One of the coolest things, though, is when a Redbird reaches base on balls, they play this song. Awesome!
  • I’ve been totally spoiled by satellite radio (I have Sirius) in my POV. My 13-hour drive to Millington was taxing at times — not by trying to update the blog while driving (!) but by having to listen to terrestial radio. I just can’t listen to it anymore! Thank God my rental car has a jack for my iPod.
  • You saw it below, but congrats to Mount Olive for the Trojans’ come-from-behind win yesterday. The Trojans are scheduled to play against Ashland (Ohio) College at 6:30 p.m. Kinston time today, but I just got off the phone with Sue Novicki (who’ll provide the half-inning updates) and she said she is doubting they get it in because of all the rain in the area. In fact, she was just climbing out of a shelter they made everyone climb into because of a tornado warning. Bad weather all around, I guess.
  • South Lenoir softball folks — don’t think I’ve forgotten about you. Depending on how long LCC stays in (or wins!) this tournament, I’ll be in Raleigh to cover the Blue Devils in the state championship tournament on Friday and Saturday. I’m planning to have a couple of features in the paper between now and Friday, too. If I’m not able to make it for whatever reason, Justin Hill is providing backup for me. In fact, JH will be writing stories about the tourney, whether I make it or not to Raleigh. Hopefully, I’ll be there. Yes, I will be blogging updates every half-inning.
  • Obviously, with LCC doing so well, I won’t have All-Free Press baseball in the paper on Sunday. I plan to package both baseball and softball teams on June 8. Coaches, please get your nominations to me by fax at (252) 527-9407 or e-mail (preferred!) them to me at bhanks@freedomenc.com.

Spence’s mom update

Keith Spence asked me to give you folks an update on his mom, but first — he wants to send his thanks to all of you who have prayed for her.

He said she has shown improvement, but she is no where close to being out of the woods. He asks that you continue to pray for her.

Again — he wanted to make sure I sent his thanks to all of you. THIS is why Kinston is such a wonderful place to live: the great community we have.

Prayers for Keith Spence’s mom needed

I know many of you (heck, ALL of you) know longtime Free Press Correspondent Keith Spence and his mom. She’s in some pretty dire straits right now physically and is going to be transferred tomorrow to Duke Hospital in Durham. Please join me in throwing up some prayers for her, Keith and their family as they go through some really tough times right now.