The controversial MTV reality show “Buckwild” made its television debut Thursday night. Here are some selected tweets from West Virginians.
UPDATE (9:28 a.m., 10/27/12): Cheryl Caswell, our courts reporter and voracious reader, just informed me the prices went back up after Cyber Monday. Sorry if you missed the deal.
I was surfing around Amazon today — for work, I promise — and noticed that a bunch of Kindle books by West Virginia favorite daughter Pearl S. Buck are on sale today.
Buck, of course, was born in Pocahontas County but spent most of her life living in and writing books about China. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for “The Good Earth,” and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.
The Pearl S. Buck birthplace is located in Hillsboro, W.Va. Click here for more information about that.
I’m turning 25 tomorrow. I know it’s not a traditional milestone birthday, like 16 or 18 or 21, but I’ve found as Aug. 11 draws closer, I’m reflecting more and more on my first quarter-century.
Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the last 10 years and the incredible changes that have occurred. Life is a lot different than it was when I was 15. So if anyone’s headed to 2002 anytime soon, please print out this blog post and give it to the 15-year-old me.
Tips for the next decade, from your future self
by Zack Harold
1. Stop wearing denim shorts and buy some shirts with collars. You’re going to have an office job someday, so you need to get used to them. Plus, girls like a collared shirt sometimes. Also, stop combing your bangs straight down.
2. Try a little bit harder in Mrs. Dotson’s class.
3. Sorry, I never did start that rock band you were so excited about, and I don’t have that record label either. But hey, we’re not bald! Yet!
4. The computer engineering thing isn’t going to work out, either. Don’t worry, though. You won’t make as much money but your eventual career is going to be so much cooler.
5. Cherish your summer breaks. You won’t get those forever.
6. Invest all your allowance money in Apple Computers, then invent “Facebook.” Do not hire Mark Zuckerberg to program it for you.
7. Tell President Bush, Osama bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan.
8. Stop eating so many cheeseburgers. It’s going to be a lot more difficult to lose weight when you’re 25.
9. Good news: you’re going to meet a really awesome girl who is going to become your wife. Nope, not giving you her name. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
10. You’re going to have a few rough patches as you finish high school and head into college, but it’s all going to be okay. You’re going to have a really cool life, filled with family and friends that love you. So stop worrying. And for goodness sakes, stop combing your bangs straight down.
I haven’t read all of Ray Bradbury’s books. Come to think of it, I’ve only read one. I’ve never read any of his famed short stories. I love “The Twilight Zone,” but if I’m not sure I’ve seen any of the episodes he penned. I never met the man, never exchanged letters with him.
Truth be told, I hadn’t thought about Bradbury much in recent years, not until I saw on Twitter that he died Tuesday at his California home. He was 91.
No, my interaction with Mr. Bradbury was brief. I was probably 13 years old. The summer between my eighth- and ninth-grade years, I purchased a mass market paperback copy of “Fahrenheit 451″ at Walden Books in the Kanawha Mall. It cost me $6.99, plus tax, according to the fading price tag on the back.
I pulled my copy of “Fahrenheit 451″ off my bookshelf this morning. My bookmark (made of a car magazine subscription card) is still in its back pages. Standing in my living room, I flipped through its pages and read a few passages. I remember nothing of this book.
I don’t remember the teenage girl who “told him of a past when people were not afraid,” as the back cover says. I didn’t even remember the main character’s name (Guy Montag). It’s amazing how little I can recall from this book that I’ve claimed for years “changed my life.”
But it’s still the truth. Reading “Fahrenheit 451″ was an experience that changed me forever.
I might not have become a writer, if not for Mr. Bradbury.
There’s one scene, which came at the very end of the book, that’s stuck with me. Montag has lost everything for his new-found love of books. He joins up with a band of hobos who memorize books to keep them alive. They tell Montag there are thousands more like them.
“And when the war’s over, someday, some year, the books can be written again, the people will be called in, one by one, to recite what they know and we’ll set it up in type until another Dark Age, when we might have to do the whole damn thing over again.”
That passage, along with the rest of “Fahrenheit 451,” helped establish in my young teenage mind the value of the written word. It let me know that words and the messages they convey are to be protected. They deserve preservation.
Soon, I started writing words of my own. Terrible, precocious essays in English classes. But I relished my freedom to write those words, and got my hackles up anytime I learned that someone else’s words were being restricted.
I discovered journalism when I was a senior. I still believe no other form of writing can better illustrate the importance of the written word. Politicians can do terrible things if a reporter’s not there, watching. A short article today can have big implications tomorrow.
Because of my brief encounter with Mr. Bradbury, I love words. I’ll love them until the day I die.
Hopefully I’ll follow the author’s example and write until the very end. But even if I don’t, even if age silences my voice or stops my hands, I know words will live on without me.
To further quote the hobo, “that’s the wonderful thing about man. He never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again, because he knows very well it is important and worth the doing.”
Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.
Some people cried when Whitney Houston died. I’m going to cry tonight. One of my heroes, Earl Scruggs, passed away earlier today at a Nashville hospital. He was 88 years old.
Scruggs helped invent the music known as “bluegrass.” He pioneered a style of banjo playing — forever known as “Scruggs style” — that banjo players around the world have learned and will continue to learn as long as the instrument exists.
Contrary to popular belief, bluegrass is actually just a little older than rock and roll, created by Bill Monroe as an amalgam of old-time mountain music, the blues and a little gospel thrown in for good measure.
Monroe often gets all the credit for creating bluegrass (he is known as the Father of the music, after all), but it’s important to remember that even Mr. Monroe could not have created this music so many Americans love without the help of a boy from Flint Hill, North Carolina.
Before a 21-year-old Scruggs joined Monroe’s band in 1945, the Father of Bluegrass was still seeking his sound.
Monroe had banjo player Stringbean in his group before Scruggs joined up, and Stringbean employed an older banjo technique called “clawhammer.” It’s a style that relies more on strumming the banjo than picking it and, though it allows musicians to play melodies, does not provide the rapid-fire “rolls” bluegrass fans have come to love.
That all changed when Scruggs joined the band. His playing delivered the sound Monroe was looking for, so much so that even after Scruggs left the Blue Grass Boys in 1948 to form his own group with singer Lester Flatt, Monroe would only hire banjo player that sounded like Earl.
Here’s a video of Earl, playing an instrumental called “Ground Speed.”
A lot of folks also forget that Earl was a master guitar player, in addition to his banjo skills. Here’s a video of him playing “You Are My Flower” with the legendary Maybelle Carter.
Rest in peace, Earl.
To celebrate last week’s opening of “The Hunger Games” movie, we hosted a live chat with Daily Mail nerds and some folks from the Kanawha County Public Library about the books.
One of our nerds asked Susan Maguire, the library’s circulation supervisor for popular materials, for reading recommendations for “Hunger Games” fans who — like us — have already burned through the trilogy. Susan was nice enough to provide us with a PDF of her recommendations. CLICK HERE to get it.
Hat-tip to blogger copyranter for this one: A new ad campaign from the Associação da Luta Contra o Cancer (ALCC) in Mozambique features Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, Cat Woman and Storm performing self breast exams.
You can see the images here. They’re safe for work, as long as you have an pretty laid-back boss.
Apparently the images are not licensed by Marvel or DC. The ad’s don’t show the characters’ faces, but c’mon. It’s freakin’ Wonder Woman. Who else wears a gold-plated bustier?
Let’s just hope Mozambique doesn’t have an association for certain…male…cancers.
Last week, Wired magazine published a teaser interview with Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, announcing the legendary game designer’s “retirement.” From that interview:
“Inside our office, I’ve been recently declaring, ‘I’m going to retire, I’m going to retire,’” Miyamoto said through his interpreter. “I’m not saying that I’m going to retire from game development altogether. What I mean by retiring is, retiring from my current position.”
Miyamoto, head of game development for the video game company, tells the magazine he’s going to leave development of big games (like the Zelda and Mario games that made Nintendo and Miyamoto famous) to younger game designers while he focuses on smaller projects.
Wired will publish the rest of its interview this week.
Miyamoto, 59, got his first big break at Nintendo in the early 1980s with the “Donkey Kong” arcade game. Though the man had no actual programming ability, he quickly made a name for himself by designing fun, engaging games that kept players pumping quarters into arcade machines.
His “Super Mario Brothers” for the Nintendo Entertainment System is, by some accounts, the best-selling video game of all time.
For more about Miyamoto and Nintendo, check out “Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America” by Jeff Ryan. Ryan chronicles the company’s missteps (anybody remember the Virtual Boy?) and its victories (“Donkey Kong,” the Game Boy, the NES, the SNES, the Wii). It’s a fun read, especially if you grew up with Nintendo like I did.
The Kanawha Public Library has a copy in its stacks, by the way.
I talked to World War II veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor Wetzel Sanders for a story in today’s Charleston Daily Mail, commemorating the Pearl Harbor attacks’ 70th anniversary.
Wetzel is one impressive dude. The 88 year old is still sharp as a tack — he just retired in May after 11 years as a bus driver — and was cooking up some Mexican cornbread when I talked to him Tuesday. I asked him if he makes his cornbread really spicy.
“It’s not too hot, but enough to know it’s Mexican,” Wetzel told me. I threatened to come over and have dinner with him and he welcomed me on. Lincoln County’s a little far to drive but I have a feeling his invitation was sincere.
Throughout our interview, Wetzel kept referring to himself as “Sundown” when telling war stories. It’s an impossibly cool nickname (reminded me of “Sundance“) and I asked Wetzel how he got it. This is what he told me:
When he was growing up, he had a friend whose dad raised chickens. Wetzel and his buddy would occasionally sneak into the chicken pen and grab one of birds, then sneak off to the woods where they would butcher their ill-gotten fowl and have a chicken fry.
Wetzel told that story to his army buddies once. A sergeant asked him, “When’s the best time to steal a chicken?” He replied, “Well, anytime after sundown.” The name stuck.
Now entering their seventh week of protesting, Occupy Charleston participants are cold, wet and miserable. You can read more in my story for today’s Charleston Daily Mail. (You also could go buy an old-fashioned paper copy. Those are more fun to read.)
When Daily Mail photog Bob Wojcieszak and I visited the Occupy camp on Monday, I came away with a whole lot of stuff that didn’t make it into the story. I suppose that’s what blogs are for. So here goes:
I mention early in my story that people are sleeping in the camp’s main tent, even though they’re not supposed to. What I didn’t mention is that some of them are sleeping on church pews.
The Occupiers bought three old church pews from our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. They originally intended to use them for seating at their nightly “general assemblies.”
The pews are set them up inside the main tent in a U-shape, giving the space a ramshackle tent revival look. Instead of a pulpit, there is a torpedo heater. A local carpenter’s union donated it to the protestors. They’re having trouble keeping a large enough supply of kerosene to run it.
Behind the heater hangs a giant dry erase marker board. It’s covered in scribblings. Protestor Trevor Payne said they use the board for announcements and to post information for the group’s “teach ins.”
Foot traffic and recent heavy rains have turned the ground at the Occupy Camp into a sloppy, muddy mess. They’ve put down metal grates and pieces of plastic to make walkways, but it’s impossible to walk anywhere without getting your boots dirty.
Note: If you plan on visiting the Occupy camp in Charleston, wear boots.
Protestors have spread straw on the ground to dry up the mud. Payne said the straw needs to be shoveled up and replaced, especially in the main tent, because some occupiers have spit and vomited on it.
The pantry, a tent set up inside the main tent, appears to be well-stocked. They’ve even got a small refrigerator for perishable items. Payne told me people stop by regularly to give the protesters food.
On Monday, they dined on chicken portobello stew. Most ate from plastic containers, including reused Chinese takeout bowls. One guy ate his lunch from a hollowed-out bell pepper.
Across from the pantry is another tent, the community storage area. There’s a small clothes rack inside. I spotted a WVU jacket. There are more clothes scattered on the floor. Payne said people don’t respect the storage area. It gets ransacked every time somebody leaves the camp.
As Bob and I were leaving, I noticed a white Dodge van parked outside the occupier’s main tent. Two lines formed on either side of the car, one at the driver’s window and another at the front passenger’s window. The people in the lines were disheveled but did not look like protesters.
A lady in line told me she was waiting on a free cell phone with 100 minutes of service. I asked Payne about it.
“Obama phones,” he said. Free cell phones for the poor.