Thursday, February 26, 2009

We're all wet

Well, it's never good when you are awakened at 5:15 in the morning by a frantic fellow employee who says he heard a loud boom and then felt water under his feet.
Yet that's how my day started.
The Athens Review was submerged for a short time this morning after a hot water heater burst (in my office closet, no less). It wasn't long before our entire newsroom was under water (see pictures above). It was a bizarre sight to come in to see that.
So after we called the fire department and dragged them out of bed, they got our water turned off and we were left to begin the task of getting rid of some of the water. I'd estimate we (me and our publisher, Lange Svehlak) scooped 50 gallons of water off the floor -- and there were still plenty of water puddles left after that. He was using a 5-gallon Shop vac. I was using our Hoover electric mop, with its half-gallon tank. Tons of fun.
But ... we're on the mend now. Who knows how much damage was done in here. I can tell you the carpet is toast, but we probably won't know how bad it all is for a couple of days.
Please excuse our mess if you happen to stop by the paper today. Yes, we're still here and working hard. We hope to send you on your way as dry as you came.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I thought we were having money issues?

I've decided to be pro-active when it comes to paying my taxes. So, basically, I filed them like a month okay.
Last week I received not one...but two checks from the national government. Being the positive person I strive to be I thought, "Score, maybe I got two refunds from the government...cha-ching!!!!"
I opened the first check and it was for the ammount I thought I was supposed to get back. The mystery check contained -- wait for it -- $1. Yes, you did read that right, the national government sent me a $1 refund. I'm fairly certain postage, the paper and the enevelope for that check cost more than a dollar.
I find it extremely interesting that when we are in an "economic crisis" people can still receive checks for -- well basically for a coke. They could have just put four quarters in the first envelope that way I could get some Laffy Taffys or Runts or the other two or three things you can get with a quarter these day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This is a great video from Southern Hills Church of Christ, Abilene, Texas. Man finds a stethoscope with unusual powers. He discovers what soundtrack is playing inside him.

--Andi Green, Advertising Director

Tea anyone?

This is an amazing video of the response to the recently signed "stimulus" bill. Rick Santelli is with CNBC, not Fox News. He is reporting from the trading floor in Chicago. The home of President Barack Obama was never thought to be a bastion of conservatism.
It is highly irresponsible to throw money in the wind and hope it doesn't blow away.
Happy watching!
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

My buddy

Our esteemed Attorney General Eric Holder made a statement yesterday calling Americans cowards. He said we don't confront issues of race often enough in our personal lives.
Holder made a point saying though the workplace is sufficiently integrated, Americans "self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives." Then he told Justice Department employees they "have a special responsibility to advance racial understanding."
This is the crazy path of liberalism. First we integrated the schools and workplace, obviously a great idea. Then when the process wasn't going fast enough for some quotas were instituted.
We may now know the next step in this dance to Utopia. Maybe Holder expects Americans to have a quota system when vetting our friends.
Personally, I don't look at people based on anything other than who they are. I couldn't care less what ethnic group they come from. I subscribe to the theory of judging others for the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
Apparently, this is not good enough for the most powerful lawyer in the country.
By the way, has he ever explained why he recommended pardoning Marc Rich? Don't think so, but liberals never have to answer for anything.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


The first warm, sunny days of February often awaken the old feelings I had for baseball. As a kid and all the way through my teen years, I couldn't wait to grab a glove, gather up a few friends and head for the old city park diamond, or anywhere with a backstop.
Now, I never was much of an athlete, but I had good timing when it came to swinging a bat. The first time I got into a game with a bunch of neighborhood kids, I hit a couple of home runs and was hooked.
Fueled by my success, I began to take an interest in professional baseball. I would tune my 6 transistor radio to the Houston Colt 45s on WRR in Dallas, or listen to the minor league, Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers on KRLD. If there was a late game, I'd sneek the radio under my pillow so I could listen well past the time a second grader should be asleep.
Baseball was the ideal pastime for a kid. There were 162 games to be played and lots of bubble gum cards to be collected. The 45s and Rangers would be eliminated from the pennant races by July, but that didn't matter. Every day was a new day and there was always another game.
Soon,spring training will be in full swing in Florida and Arizona as the teams get ready for another season to begin around the first of April.
The old game doesn't mean as much to me now as it did all those years ago, but these warm February days never fail to bring back twinges of the way things used to be.
News Editor, Rich Flowers

Monday, February 16, 2009

Crying from laughter is a good thing...right?

I can't say why, but I have always found news bloopers hi-larious. There is something about live television screw-ups that can bring me to tears.
One night I was searching YouTube, when I came across a clip of a model falling twice and these two news anchors that can't stop laughing when they watch the clip. In my humble opinion, here is what makes this clip funny — 1) The way the girl falls (seriously it looks like her legs turn into jelly), and 2) The fact that one of the men has the type of laugh that says, "I've been smoking for awhile." You know what I am talking about, that elongated wheeze type of thing.
Needless to say, I was crying from laughter when I first watched this clip...and every subsequent time as well.
Anyway, I wanted you to enjoy it as well. Lord knows we all need a little laugh at the end of Monday.
I guess I'm're welcome!
Angela Weatherford, Associate Editor

We're under atack

(click on the above image to see a larger version)
I just saw this stunning image on the Associated Press. I first saw it on a sister newspaper's Web site and couldn't see the details very well.
What you're looking at is an artist's rendering of the way the Earth is seen from space, complete with satellites drawn from information obtained from, well, satellite photos of the planet.
Let's say you're an alien and you're approaching Earth to take it over. Wouldn't you start to pull in the drive and then see all those satellites and say, "Hey, Nezbot, let's just go on to the next stop. This one's already got an infestation."
As Louis Armstrong says, "Whada wuunderfuuul world!"
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Please press #@#)*(%)@(*$#@)* KLKJ#@~~~*E{)(*@#$!!

Can someone tell me why we use automated answering services? They are anti-customer service. There's nothing I hate more than dialing up a number and getting the auto-operator:
"Thank you for calling ....."
"If you are dialing from a touch-tone phone, please press 1. If you are calling on a rotary phone, please hang up the phone and go purchase a touch-tone phone. If you are calling on Monday, Wednesday or Sunday, please press * plus the birthdate of the person you are trying to reach, and stand on your left leg only, then press the pound key."
Is there an automated system out there that works? Ahem. What I meant to say is, is there one out there that works efficiently?
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Friday, February 13, 2009

Kudos to House GOP

I am thrilled to read not one Republican in the House of Representatives voted for the bloated spending bill today. Hopefully, the Senate GOP members will stay strong among the hurricane of threats coming from the White House.
I believe history will show, once again, extensive government spending will not boost the economy. Government doesn't have to ability to create and sustain 3.5 million jobs. The only source it has to raise money is to levy taxes, which cannot be sustained if all workers are on its payroll.
The administration was attempting to get cover for the bill. Seems like they won't be successful in that either. :)
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I suspect he's not "walking the line" anymore

Joaquin Phoenix, doing his best Rick Rubin impression, showed up on Letterman last night. Bizarre! I know the above video is almost 11 minutes long, but man, it goes by so fast. It's a train wreck, and so awkward.

What was he doing? I think the consensus was that he was high. He doesn't even start talking until about four minutes in. Letterman was doing his awkward pause routine, and the crowd was eating it up. Phoenix, by the way, looked like he was miserable. It gets really awkward when Letterman starts ripping on him and Phoenix starts cussing out the keyboard player (his name is slipping my mind) and then sticks his gum under Letterman's desk.

Let's hope he's getting ready for a role. Otherwise, he's probably heading for rehab or the obit page. Sad to say, but he doesn't look like he's in good shape at all.

-- Jayson Larson, editor

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

We should pay people to stop smoking crack, too

Oh, no. No, no.
Just read this on Yahoo!News. It comes from an Associated Press report.

"Dangling enough dollars in front of smokers who want to quit helps many more succeed, an experiment with hundreds of General Electric Co. workers indicates. Among those paid up to $750 to quit and stay off cigarettes, 15 percent were still tobacco-free about a year later. That may not sound like much, but it's three times the success rate of a comparison group that got no such bonuses."

WHAT!!! Are you kidding? Every company has a right to do what it wants to do, but man, isn't there a better way to spend money on incentives? What about the folks who don't smoke? How 'bout a bonus for showing up to work? No, that wouldn't work. There's already a bonus for that. It's called your paycheck.

Nuts, man. Nuts.

-- Jayson Larson,editor

Lone Grove, Oklahoma

I know the first state many people think of when they hear the word tornado is Kansas, because of Dorothy and Toto and the merry land of Oz. But here in Texas, we're well aware of the season that's coming.
Spring in Texas means storms and rumors of storms. Everytime the weather siren goes off in Poynor, folks in this little town remember what even a small twister can do to a community.
Still, when I hear the word tornado, I often think of Oklahoma and my two-and-a-half years in the Sooner state. While at KKAJ in Ardmore, I frequently made the short drive to Lone Grove to broadcast a football game or a basketball tourneyment. The news of the deadly storm there was just another reminder of why the area near the Red River is often thought of as "Tornado Alley."
The deadliest day in the Red River Valley was April 10, 1979. The devastation began on the Texas side when a twister smashed into the southern part of Wichita Falls. The line that produced that tornado continued to traveled northeast until all of south central Oklahoma was braced for another hit. I stayed on the air until 3 a.m., giving reports that I gathered from local police and rescue departments. Our news director drove around the city breaking in with information about fallen trees, high water and swirling winds.
Ardmore didn't get a direct hit, but a couple of the little towns nearby did. Fortunately the death toll, outside of Wichita Falls was low. In researching this, I noticed Henderson County experienced a tornado April 11.
The National Weather Service tells us we can get a tornado anytime of year in Texas, but about this time of year, I try to get prayed up.
— Rich Flowers, News Editor

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gotta love elementary school

I try to have this rule about not reporting incidents from inside the schools when I go eat with my kids. I'm always the newspaper editor, but I try to call "timeout" and be dad, too.
But I've got to report on this earth-shattering piece of breaking news:
I went to South Athens Elementary to eat with my son today. As I was waiting, I saw a teacher waiting patiently with her students in line while others finished using the restroom.
So there's this kid standing second in line (we'll call him Kid No. 1), and I see a boy and a girl behind him plugging their noses and making awful faces. Well, I figure I knew what was going on, and I just chuckled (trying not to let the teacher see me acting like a 7-year-old). Then Kid No. 1 starts breathing into his hands to see if he's got bad breath or something. The boy standing behind him then says, "Ewww, you're gross!"
And then that same kid turned around and stuck his finger about three-quarters of the way up his nose. On that, I could no longer hold my silent laugh.
Isn't elementary school awesome? I miss it. Maybe I can pull a Billy Madison and go back.
If I could, I'd try to stay longer. And I'd try to keep my fingers away from my nose.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Red coats

The monster stimulus bill passed today with the assistance of three traitors. So-called Republicans Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins threw their votes in the pot with the Democrats.
I think the Republican National Committee should run true conservatives against the red coats when they are next up for election. If we lose the seats to Democrats, at least we wouldn't have to hear about how these Republicans In Name Only vote.
Bearing an "R" next to your name should stand for something, should guide your values and principles. That is not true in the case of these three politicians, and they should face the consequences.
I am livid at their betrayal because the unpopular stimulus bill was on the road to failure before they "compromised." This bill will affect all Americans and parts of it will cause suffering. Some aspects of our society are at risk of being transformed to resemble those of European societies. We are on the brink of no return and I don't know how many Americans realize the danger.
These three turned a deaf ear to the will of their constituents, admitted as much, and by rights should lose their jobs.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Monday, February 9, 2009


I will confess up-front that Britney Spears has pretty much always annoyed me. A recent comeback single "Womanizer" is particularly nerve racking because it is so repetitive. The entire chorus is mostly one word — give you three guesses.
So now that I have fully exposed my bias on the subject, I want to say I love the All-American Rejects cover of the song.
The band completely kills the song with an accordion, guitar, tambourine and several hand-made instruments.
Seriously, I dare — even triple dog dare — Brittany to top that!
That is the difference between true talent and a studio prop.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

High times at 'The Valley'

Trinity Valley Community College's basketball teams are enjoying high times. Here we are nine games into February and the regular season is starting to wind down and both are in first place.
This is the 10-year anniversary of the last time both teams qualified for the national tournament in the same season. It's also the last time a Region XIV Conference school pulled off the fete.
It could happen again. Both TVCC teams are playing at a high level right now, especially the men.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is nothing sacred?

Well, I'm not sure where baseball fans are to go now. We lost Canseco to steroids, then McGwire. Bonds, the supposed all-time home run champ was next, following closely behind by Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens.
Then came news this weekend that former Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez, arguably the best player in baseball now and the future all-time home run champ, used steroids in 2003 when he was in Texas. I'm disappointed, just not surprised.
Steroids has ruined baseball. I'm 31 now, and if you go back to the roughly 1990, when widespread use began, more than half my baseball life is tainted by steroids. It's so much worse than any gambling scandal has been -- those affected only certain players (Pete Rose) or teams (the Black Sox). This affects everyone. Records have fallen that can't be replaced.
It's a very tough time to be a baseball fan.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

Text messages

Well, I've had my new phone for about a month now and I really like it. People can call me at my house in Poynor and I can actually hear them without the signal cutting out. I've taken a few fuzzy pictures with the camera and downloaded some of may favorite songs to listen to when my I-Pod and MP3 player are charging.
Sadly, I'm still on the outside looking in when it comes to text messaging. I see people punching the keyboard with their thumbs and clicking away sending greetings or information to who knows where, but the only text messsages I get are ads. By the way, I appreciate their concern, but my car warranty is NOT about to expire.
My wife has started to trade texts from some of her younger friends, but so far she hasn't sent me one either.
I think texts are cool. They're a good way of connecting with someone who day only have a few free minutes beween classes of on the job. When young people come over to the house to visit, I'm amazed that they always seem to have an incoming or outgoing text in the works. They can achieve this with great dexterity. They'll be talking to us, clicking away at the same time. Of course, I realize if I was anyone important, I'd be getting a text now and then.
At least the car warranty guy cares.
— Rich Flowers, News Editor

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ancient problems

My new lunch-hour book is "Legacy: Paying the price for the Clinton years," by Rich Lowry. In one chapter he quotes Alexis de Tocqueville regarding the nanny-state mentality. I feel the sentiment is worth revisiting, considering our current political debates. And I quote:
"It only tries to keep them in perpetual childhood...It daily makes the exercise of free choice less useful and rarer, restricts the activity of free will within a narrower compass, and little by little robs each citizen of the proper use of his own facilities...Government then extends its embrace to include the whole of society. It covers the whole of social life with a network of petty, complicated rules that are both minute and uniform, through which even men of the greatest originality and the most vigorous temperament cannot force their heads above the crowd. It does not break men's will, but softens, bends, and guides it...It does not destroy anything, but prevents much being born; it is not tyrannical, but hinders, restrains, enervates, stifles, and stultifies so much that in the end each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and hard-working animals with the government as its shepherd."
To paraphrase...a big government brings about a small-minded citizen.
— Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer


This, from the Associated Press:
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida agency has revoked the license of a doctor accused of medical malpractice in a botched abortion in which authorities say a live baby was placed in the trash.
The Florida Board of Medicine on Friday found Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique (ren-uh-LEEK’) guilty of medical malpractice and delegating responsibility to unlicensed personnel.
An administrative complaint said Renelique was scheduled to perform an abortion on a teenager who was 23 weeks pregnant.
According to the complaint, Sycloria Williams gave birth at a Hialeah clinic after waiting hours for Renelique to arrive. A clinic owner placed the baby in the trash. Police recovered the decomposing remains a week later.
Renelique and his attorney declined to comment after the hearing.

Regardless of your political affiliation, I think we can agree as human beings that the revoking of a license wasn't appropriate in this case. The baby in the trash was murdered, and the clinic owner should be tried on a murder charge. Can you imagine a baby, just born, being left in a trash can until it dies? Sickening. In my book, you should be not only looking at a doctor who should never practice medicine again, but a clinic owner in prison for the rest of his or her life.

-- Jayson Larson, editor

Thursday, February 5, 2009

He's joking, right?

Rap star 'Lil Wayne said in an interview with Katie Couric that quote: "Music is another form of news. Music is another form of journalism."
I protest this statement on behalf of all respectable journalists. I know our numbers have diminished — to the point of near extinction lately — but come on!
Singing the events of your life and thoughts does not make you a journalist. At best, you are a singing blogger. I would like to see 'Lil Wayne try to string an intelligent sentence together, because his lyrics don't qualify. Neither does the interview, the man sounded high.
-Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shame, shame ...

Super swimmer Michael Phelps apologized today for getting caught hitting the hash pipe in front of someone with a camera and a hankerin' for making a little dough by selling said photo to a British tabloid.
Why does it seem that every time a super athlete does something super (Barry Bonds) enough for kids to really get excited about a sport (Marion Jones), that athlete then lets everyone down (Mark McGwire)?
We wonder what's wrong with kids today.
-- Jayson Larson, editor

You gotta have heart

Hats off to the Athens Lady Hornets for the effort they gave in Tuesday night's 50-38 loss to the Fairfield Lady Eagles at the AHS gym.
With leading scorer Alex Furr unable to play at 100 percent and only a few minutes due to an illness, the rest of the team pulled together and gave it everything they had.
Yes, in the end, they came up short. But it was inspiring to see them play their hearts out.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New additions

Inger, my beautiful German Shepard, had six equally beautiful puppies on Friday morning. I had so much fun just looking and playing with them over the weekend. It is amazing the difference motherhood makes in an animal. She was much quieter than normal and yet very protective. But she is still loving to her owners, and friendly to their guests.
Thanks dad for taking the picture for me!
Lauren Ricks, Staff Writer

Monday, February 2, 2009

What's the allure?

Watching halftime of last night Super Bowl I wondered (as I have many times before) what's so great about Bruce Springstein? My Dad (who is also not a big fan) said he was looked at as the common man when he first started making music. Basically, in a sea of over produced music Springstein came out with unpolished music. Now for the irony...he didn't have a big time hit until he bacame polished and over produced.

Here's another thing, all his songs pretty much sound the same, case in point at the begining of each of his four songs my Mom said, "Yes, Born in the U.S.A., I love that son." He didn't play that one. It would be nice if we could have a really good halftime show that is not over produced and has good musicianship. I.E. No actors dressed as referees please.

— Angela Weatherford, associate editor

Your favorite Super Bowl commercial?

Well, overall I was disappointed with Super Bowl commercials Sunday, but I did come to a realization: the visual effects that used to make the commercials so cool 10 years ago are commonplace now. We've even reverted to using 3D to try to wow viewers.
Still, two commercials were pretty good, in my opinion:
1. During the Super Bowl, the commercial was like a train wreck -- kind of like nails on a chalkboard, yet I couldn't look away. I've included the clip above. I spent the rest of the night walking by my wife and saying, "Hey, dummy!" Watch the clip and you'll get it.
2. Before the Super Bowl, the Doritos Beer flavored commercial. Probably one of the best of the day. The setup: a guy is pitching a new flavor of Doritos, and each chip has the equivalent of a 16 oz. can of beer embedded into it. So you've got to know it wasn't long before you saw someone's underwear. Again, included below.
3. One other note: Danica Patrick has repeatedly said she just wants to be a racecar driver and not a sex symbol. Her commercial, where she appears in the shower, shows otherwise. Show me the money!

What was your favorite commercial?

-- Jayson Larson, editor

It's about time

So the NFL Hall of Fame committee finally got it right over the weekend and selected former Dallas Cowboys WR Bob Hayes for induction. All I can say is it's about time.
"Bullet Bob" changed the game when he played for the Cowboys in the late 1960s and early 70s. His speed made man-to-man coverage ineffective and ushered in zone coverages.
Some of my greatest memories when the Cowboys were my team and my heroes are of Hayes streaking down the field well behind a defender to catch a pass for a touchdown.
Sadly, he died a few years ago and won't be around for the induction ceremony in August, but it's nice he will finally take his place among the greats of the game.
-- Benny Rogers, Sports Editor

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super duper bowl

Well, it wasn't an interesting matchup, but it was a great Super Bowl. I figured I'd be reading by halftime. Sorry to see Kurt Warner miss his chance at another ring, but it's neat to see Ben Roethlsigslsasgubasdraiwibwegioaberger win another one, too, while he's still young.
The NFL has to be pretty pleased: the last two Super Bowls have been great. Better than the last two World Series, for sure.
So what's a sports fan to do now in Tejas? Mavericks? Not until the NBA Lottery. Rangers? We didn't sign any pitchers, so we'll lead the league in runs again and be last in bullpen ERA and starters ERA and finish (drumroll please ...) third in the AL West this year.
There's always fantasy baseball.
-- Jayson Larson, editor