Tag Archives: Jack Daniels

The Tennessee Bucket List

29 Mar

We spent Saturday afternoon roaming around Nashville. We ate lunch on the patio at Burger Republic and played around at Centennial Park. In between, we browsed through some shops. It was while browsing that I found a book called The Tennessee Bucket List: 100 Ways to Have a Real Tennessee Experience. Actually, it only lists 99 ways because the last one is something that a writer would put in there when he could not think of anything else to add.

Anyway, I bought the book because I wanted to know how many of these I had done. Heck, I have lived in Tennessee my entire life. I must have done most of them. Also, buying the book meant I could write a blog post.

Here goes the list of my real Tennessee experience.

See a Show at the Grand Ole Opry – I have seen the Opry at the Opry House and at the Ryman Auditorium. Thanks to a former student my wife and I were lucky enough to see the Opry backstage at the Ryman. She got her picture with Riders in the Sky.

Behold the Beauty of a Tennessee Walker – We have had box seats at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration since I was a kid. Most people go to Shelbyville for the horses. I go for the donuts.

Watch a NASCAR Race – Actually, I have been to a NASCAR race in Alabama. I will be at the Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time in the Fall, and that will be for a football game.

Sip Moonshine – Everyone has done this, right?

Wander the District – You cannot have the full Nashville experience without going to this part of town.

Explore a King’s Mansion – The TV Room is my favorite part of Graceland. The Outlaw Josey Wales is playing all of the time.

There are three tv's. I left out the one showing the trivia answer.

Be a Part of an Archaeological Dig – I am not sure how much digging is done in Tennessee, but there was once a dig on my family’s farm.

See a Civl War Reenactment – The dad of one of my friends took me to a reenactment of the Battle of Stones River. It was surreal to see people pretend that they were living in the past.

Enjoy a Goo Goo Cluster – You have not had candy until you have had a Goo Goo.

See Seven States at the Same Time – Rock City is an old-time roadside attraction that has survived into the 21st Century. If you are near Chattanooga, then you have to, as the barn roofs say, See Rock City.

Take a Walk Down Music Row – You may not see a famous person, but you will pass buildings where awesome music has been created.

Walk the Field at Shiloh – Almost 110,000 Americans fought on this land. There were more casualties in this battle than in all of America’s previous wars combined. It is a haunting place.

Explore Cades Cove – When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was formed, land was taken from people who had lived in the mountains for years. This community has been preserved in its rustic state.

Stroll Down Beale Street – The Blues was not born in Memphis, but this is where the great Bluesmen gained fame.

See the Sunsphere – In 1982, the World’s Fair was held in Knoxville. It is the last World’s Fair to make a profit, but the Sunsphere is all that is left.

Buy a Pair of Boots – I admit that I have done it.

Stand in the Footsteps of History – Everyone should visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. It is housed in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. A few years ago, I took my family.

Explore the Titanic – Yep, the Titanic is in Tennessee. Specifically, it is in Pigeon Forge. It sounds strange, but it is an awesome museum.

See a Shark – Yep, sharks are in Tennessee. Specifically, they are at an aquarium in Gatlinburg, which is down the road from Pigeon Forge.

Hear Al Green Preach – I am cheating on this one. I have never heard Al Green preach, but I have heard him sing.

Visit Franklin on Foot – Downtown Franklin is a great place to visit. The city has found the right combination of preservation and enterprise.

Behold the Statue of Athena – Actually, we saw this on the same day I bought the book. Nashville has the Parthenon because it used to be known as the Athens of the South. Inside the Parthenon stands Athena.image-10

Strum a Guitar – Everyone has done this, right?

See a College Football Game – I have seen games at Neyland Stadium, Dudley Field, Nissan Stadium, the Liberty Bowl and Cumberland University’s Nokes-Lasater Field. However, the coolest one was Chamberlain Field in Chattanooga, which opened in 1908. When it closed, it was the second oldest college football stadium in the country.

Play Miniature Golf – It is one of my favorite things to do. The best place to do it? Hillbilly Golf in Gatlinburg.

Spend the Afternoon Shopping – The book talks about Opry Mills. However, the Mall at Green Hills is the best.

Savor a MoonPie – It is an awesome snack, but it is best paired with a RC Cola.

Visit the Grave of Meriwether Lewis – This is the Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame. He met a mysterious end in a tavern along the Natchez Trace.

See a Bear in the Woods – I saw a bear with her cubs at Cades Cove. Luckily, I did not end up like Leo DiCaprio.

Go Line Dancing – Everyone has done this, right?

Spend a Day at Dollywood – I have been to Dollywood after it was called Dollywood. I have also been there when it was called Silver Dollar City. I have also been there when it was called Gold Rush Junction.

Watch the Marching of the Ducks – The Peabody Hotel in Memphis is a nice hotel. It is also the home of some cool ducks.

Go Whitewater Rafting – Everyone has done this, right?

Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame – We try to go there each time they open a new exhibit. It is a great museum

Explore Market Square – This is a part of downtown Knoxville with a lot of cool restaurants and shops.

Pig Out of Memphis-Style Barbecue – Nashville people do not like to give Memphis credit for anything. However, they are tops when it comes to barbecue. Go to Rendezvous.

See an Eagle – A few wild ones can be seen around here.

Discover the Mighty Mississippi – At times, I have just sat and watched it flow by.

Ride a Sky Lift – For years, it has been a Gatlinburg landmark. Everyone has to ride it at least once.

Visit the Jack Daniels Distillery – Jack Daniels is produced in Lynchburg, which sits in a dry county. You cannot buy alcohol where the most famous whiskey is made.

Sit in the “Scopes Monkey Trial” Courtroom – One of my greatest moments as an educator was talking about the Scopes Trial in the courtroom. It is worth a visit to Dayton.

Sing “Rocky Top” – I have sung it thousands of times at the top of my lungs. However, I cannot bring myself to sing the “WOO” part.

Tour a Plantation – They are everywhere.

See a Lady Vols Basketball Game – I have seen a bunch of games and seen a bunch of victories. However, it is not the same without Pat Summitt.

Tour the Home of a U.S. President – There are three. I have seen two. Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk.

Ascend the Space Needle – It is a ride high over Gatlinburg.

See a Titans Game – I have done this a bunch. It was fun when they were winning. These days, it is not as much fun.

Cheer on the South (or North) – When I went to the Dixie Stampede, we were late and could only get tickets on the North side. I was told that the North never wins. That night they won.

Take a Riverboat Cruise at Night – Nashville’s General Jackson is a great ride on a Summer night.

Enjoy an Orchestra – We love going to the Nashville Symphony. They are awesome.

Sink Your Teeth into a King Leo Peppermint Stick – I am not crazy about them, but they are a Christmas tradition.

Walk to the Top of Clingman’s Dome – It is Tennessee’s highest point. Just watch out for the fog. They do not call them the Smoky Mountains for nothing.

Listen to a Country Music Concert – Everyone has done this, right?image-11

Visit a Fort – There are forts, but they are not as cool as forts in the American West.

There is my list. I will not write about the things that I have not done. I am sure the author of the book would love for you to buy a copy to see what else is in there.








What is the South?

16 Jan

This semester, my colleague is teaching Southern U.S. History, and, on the first day, he asked his students to answer a simple question – what is the South? As it turns out, the question is not as simple as it appears, and the students have been trying to answer it for a couple of days.Question

I have been listening to the discussion as it takes place outside of my office door, and it has brought to mind a blog that I recently read. The person wrote about how they wanted to visit a southern city because they had never been to one. They had been to New Orleans but did not think that counted. The Big Easy was too diverse to be truly southern.

I was taken aback by the blog because New Orleans is one of the most southern of cities. Apparently, the blogger thought that a southern city should be a place where people put on their camouflage caps and rebel flag t-shirts; hop into their pickup trucks; and crank up the country music station.

Of course, those people exist. However, the South is more than that. It has different geography. It had different foods. People speak with different accents. In short, the South is a diverse region, and New Orleans is a perfect example of that.

However, that does not answer the question that was asked of the students. What is the South? Well, it is a matter of perspective. It depends on area. It depends on race. It depends on the person who is answering the question.

Obviously, people have different opinions about the South. Some think of its faults, and others think of its more positive qualities. I can only think about it from my point of view. When I answer the question, this is what I come up with.

The South is:

drinking sweet tea.

having people from other parts of the country make fun of your accent when their accents are just as strange.

the Blues.

reading Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner.

not being able to live without air conditioning.

eating black-eyed peas and hog jowl on New Year’s Day.

driving on country roads on a Sunday afternoon.

being washed in the blood.

hiking the trails of the Great Smoky Mountains.

eating baloney on crackers with a little hot sauce on top.

growing up as a non-football player in a region that worships football players.

going to college football games and worshipping players on a Saturday afternoon.

listening to the Allman Brothers and the Marshall Tucker Band.

feeling shame when watching film of Bull Connor’s forces using fire hoses and dogs on protestors.

saying I want a Coke when ordering a soft drink and knowing that someone who calls it pop is from somewhere else.

attending a NASCAR race and thinking I could do that.

driving the Natchez Trace from Nashville to Natchez.

going to church and having a “dinner on the ground.”

walking in the footsteps of Elvis at Graceland.

drinking Jack Daniels.

eating at a locally owned Meat and Three.

greeting strangers as you walk past them.

knowing that the region has had some serious issues.

being proud of where I live despite knowing about those problems because there are some great things about it, too.

To me, that is the South.

Looking at the Future Through a Glass Filled with Jack Daniel’s

29 Aug

What happens when you mix cold medicine, Jack Daniel’s and a dystopian movie? Last night, I found out.

I have been under the weather for the past few days, which sucks because classes started over those same few days. Luckily, it was all about going over the syllabi. I am not a big medicine taker, but my wife convinced me that I needed something. I am certain she was right.

Reason #32 to get married = There is someone around to make you take drugs when you are sick.

She also thought that a little whiskey might help. Before you start thinking that she was trying to kill me by mixing medicine and whiskey, I need you to know that we have a happy home. Whiskey is an old remedy for colds and such. Grandmothers used to give it to kids. Of course, that is the old days. Today, that would be considered child abuse and somebody would call the government.

Reason #14 not to trust the government = They make you stop taking home remedies for sickness and make you buy health insurance.

I don’t know if whiskey cures a cold, but it certainly makes you think the cold is going away.

So, I was filled with cold medicine and drinking Jack Daniel’s when I got the urge to watch The Last Chase, a movie about a bleak future. Being a movie made in 1981, that bleak future was supposed to happen about ten years ago. It’s always weird to watch a movie depicting a future that is currently the past. That’s why movie makers and religious leaders who predict the end of the world should follow the same rule. When you envision a future of destruction, set the date a long way into the future.

Anyway, the movie stars Lee Majors, Burgess Meredith and Chris Makepeace.

It was supposed to be the transition of Majors from television star to movie star. That didn’t happen. Instead, he was making this movie while Ryan O’Neal was stealing Farrah Fawcett from him.Farrah Fawcett

At least, that is according to an interview with the director.

Burgess Meredith was not far from the success of Rocky, and I wonder why he signed up for this.

Chris Makepeace was the Jesse Eisenberg of the 1980s, playing the intelligent kid who did not fit in with everyone else.Chris Makepeace

He was in a couple of hits like Meatballs and My Bodyguard, and I began to wonder whatever happened to him. A quick Google search didn’t tell me much. According to the Internet Movie Database, he last appeared in something in 2001. There is a Chris Makepeace tribute page, but it is lacking, as well.

Now, back to the movie. Gas shortages and a plague sent the United States into a tailspin. In the future, the government has clamped down and declared no privately owned vehicles. Everyone is controlled by public transportation. Franklyn Hart is a former race car driver who longs for the old days. He rebuilds his car and plans to drive it across the country to California, which has gained its independence.

A young kid from a boarding school doesn’t fit in with his classmates and spends his time hacking government computers. He hitches a ride, and the two head out.

The government tries to stop them by getting a fighter pilot to chase them down and kill them. He wants to be a free as they do and sacrifices himself so they can make it to their destination.

I have watched the movie a bunch, but this was the first time I have seen it with drugs and alcohol in my system. This is what I picked up.

In the coming apocalypse, our cities will not be destroyed by bombs or rising sea levels. They will be overcome by matte paintings.

Taking drugs and drinking whiskey will make you feel numb.

In the future, Smokey the Bear is still fighting forest fires.

Speaking of smokey, it would be nice if cops of the future really drove black and white golf carts.

When our society breaks down and we abandon the heartland, the Native Americans will take their land back.

Only in the movies can the guy find a woman in the woods to hook up with.Alexandra

The kid learning how to drive in a race car is like taking a driving test at the Indy 500.

The government will stop trying to control Utah and Arizona. Apparently, they are too difficult to deal with.

The future will have sex clubs and promote group sex. The government much think that mass sex is the same a mass transportation.

Even in the future, the government will find a reason to massacre Native Americans.

In the future, a plane can be refurbished in a couple of hours.

For some reason, the look of boarding schools never change. Just ask the X-Men.

Coca-Cola still has a fizz after twenty years in the can.

Combining cold medicine and Jack Daniel’s is an enlightening experience.

Speaking of Jack Daniel’s, it is timeless and will continue to be produced in the future. Same label and everything.

Computer technology will regress to look and function like computers in the 1980s.

Colonel Steve Austin could have ran to California on one leg.

Lee Majors ages more gracefully in the movies than he does in real life.Lee Majors

By they way, he took his stage name from Johnny Majors, who played and coached football at the University of Tennessee.

Since it is football time, that is probably a good one to end on.

Outdoor Blogging About Lightning Bugs and Time Travel

6 Jun

Tonight, I am doing something a little different. Instead of sitting at my desk or at the breakfast table, I am blogging on the deck. Dusk is my favorite part of the day. It’s that time between dark and light when you can see but not see. It’s that time when the shadows begin to echo with the noises of the night. It’s that time that I like to imagine vampires waking from their sleep. With all that going on, I need to experience it and not be shielded by the artificial lights of the house.

Actually, I’m not a big fan of artificial lights. I keep my office dark, and, when I am able, I keep my house dark, too. For some reason, things just seem more interesting when they can barely be seen. That’s probably why they keep the lights dim at strip clubs.

Here I am sitting on the deck, and I really notice the noises. I hear the neighbors talking on their deck. I wonder if people realize how far sound travels. I hear birds in the woods behind the house. I hear crickets chirping, one of the most lonesome sounds in the world. There is a dog barking in the distance.

When I was a kid, we played a game. Whoever saw the first lightning bug would win a prize. It could have been a soft drink or an extra thirty minutes before going to bed. Seeing the first lightning bug always seemed to be a moment of passage. In my mind, that’s when day truly turned into night. I just saw the first lightning bug, so it is night, now.Lightning Bug

I feel the urge to get up and catch one. That was also a fun game. Catch one and let it glow in your hand. It’s probably weird, but I also tried to find patterns in their mass blinking.

The neighbor just yelled, “Cold beer!” That’s one way to spend a relaxing evening. I’m not a big fan of beer, however. When I was younger, I hated it. Then, someone told me that I had to acquire a taste for it. That didn’t make sense. If I had to learn to like something, then why would I want it in the first place? There are other choices of adult beverages that taste better.Jack Daniels Logo

The light of my computer screen is attracting bugs. It’s always good to be typing and something is crawling along with the cursor.

It really is a nice evening. The trees are swaying in the breeze. Someone down the street is mowing their lawn. For me, it is a night for contemplating. When that happens, I think about the distant future. I guess that’s strange for someone who studies the past for a living. I tend to think of it as future history. What will historians of the future find when they look back? What will my house look like? Will it still be here? Will this be one of those neighborhoods of old homes like we have now? How big will the trees be? Will there be a George Jetson car pulling into the driveway?George Jetson

I don’t know, but I wonder. That’s why people have always been fascinated with time travel. We want to know what we, deep down, realize that we can never know.

Anyway, that’s what happens when I blog outdoors.

The Power of Tequila

11 Jun

Last night, I met some folks for dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse, the same place where I left my credit card a while back. Due to it being a weekend, there was a bit of a wait, and we found ourselves sitting in the waiting area with other people wanting to eat. After getting a little antsy, I offered to go to the bar and order libations for the group. It turns out that only two people, including me, wanted to partake, so I sauntered to the bar and returned with my Jack and Coke (which is also the name of a great song) and a Sangria.

I sat the Sangria on a table while its owner went to the restroom, and a little old lady asked me what was in it. The conversation continued with me replying:

“I’m not sure. I know it has wine and fruit, but I really don’t know what else.”

“It looks good, but I need to know what liquor is in it.”

“Well ma’am, all I am sure about is the wine.”

“Does it have tequila?”

“I don’t…”

“I stay away from tequila. They say it makes your clothes fall off.”

At this point, her husband gets up, and she asks where he is going.

“I’m going to get you a shot of tequila.”

Red Eye

27 Mar

As I drove the big white van back from New Orleans, my eyes started to get a little fuzzy. Not being accustomed to driving a big white van, the fuzziness of my eyesight was beginning to worry me. However, we made it back safely, and I headed to the house quickly to remove my contacts. That’s when I saw that the right eye was totally bloodshot and, for lack of a better term, freaky looking. A blue eye surrounded by red blood brought a couple of things to mind.

1. The bloodshot eye could have come from my good friend Jack Daniels. However, I met him around midday Saturday and had not seen him since. Also, only one eye was affected, and I don’t remember having half of a drink.

2. I was turning into the Terminator or one of those red-eyed guys on Battlestar Gallactica. Having never watched that show, I started practicing my lines – “I’ll be back.”

3. I was turning into an old-time bottle of cheap whiskey. You’ve seen those movies where the cowboy walks up to the bar and says, “Barkeep, give me a shot of red-eye.” The fists start flying not long after.

4. Of course, I could have been entering a weird version of Star Trek where an alien race has one good eye and one bad one. It would be like the episode where the black/white guy fights the white/black guy.

5. In reality, I knew that I had been outside all weekend and something got between my contact and my eye. Whatever it was, I had to get it out.

Unfortunately, taking out the contacts didn’t help, and I spent the night having strange dreams where the Terminator and a cowboy shoot a bottle of Jack Daniels off the head of a white/black guy. When I woke up, the eye was still messed up, and I couldn’t see a thing. Driving into the rising sun to get to school was a real disaster.

It was then that I decided to go to the eye doctor to get some drops. Instead, I got the news that I had an ulcerated cornea. If you have never had one of those, then you haven’t lived a complete existence. Anyway, I have to wear my glasses for a week, which I hate, and used these steroid eye drops, which I hate more.

I am not a big putting-stuff-in-my-eyes fan. After wearing contacts for years, I still have issues with them. And, I have avoided at all costs the need to drop liquid in there. It’s a feat that I have never been able to accomplish, and, now, I have to do it.

The first time I tried it the normal way. I leaned my head back and put the bottle over my eye. The drop came out and hit me in the face. There’s one wasted drop. Then, I did it the goofy way and laid on the bed. This time it worked. So, here I am – a college professor who has to lie down in order to put drops in my eye. And, I have to do it THREE TIMES A DAY! And, I have to do it for a WEEK! Misery reigns.